Chattahoochee River among America’s Most Endangered Rivers

Costly new dams, reservoirs not the solution to Georgia's water needs

May 15th, 2012

Jenny Hoffner, American Rivers, (404) 373-3602
Sally Bethea, Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, (404) 352-9828 x11
Kevin McGrath, Upper Chattahoochee Chapter of Trout Unlimited, (404) 668-5835
Barbara Payne, Fulton County Taxpayers Foundation, (404) 869-6066
Steve Farace, SweetWater Brewing Company, (404) 691-2537

Washington, D.C. – American Rivers named the Chattahoochee River among America’s Most Endangered Rivers® today, shining a national spotlight on two boondoggle dam and reservoir proposals that are far too expensive and would harm water supplies, clean water, recreation opportunities, and fish and wildlife habitat. 

“The America’s Most Endangered Rivers report is a call to action to save rivers that are facing a critical tipping point,” said Jenny Hoffner of American Rivers. “We all need healthy rivers for our drinking water, health, economy, and quality of life. We hope citizens will join us to ensure a healthy Chattahoochee River and secure water supply for generations to come.”

The Chattahoochee is threatened by the proposed Glades Reservoir (in the headwaters) and Bear Creek Reservoir (downstream of Atlanta). However, building new large reservoirs to meet water supply need in the Southeast does not make sense. The projects use inflated projections of future water demand, making their necessity doubtful. Moreover, the projects are far too expensive and would lose a lot of water to evaporation.

American Rivers and its partners called on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to deny permits for the reservoirs, and urged decision-makers to implement and fund conservation and efficiency measures to secure new water supplies at a fraction of the cost and minimal environmental impact.

“These dams are being sold as critical water supply projects, but they have always been planned as amenity lakes to benefit private landowners. When one considers the inflated water supply demands that are based on unrealistic population growth scenarios, and price tags in the hundreds of millions at a time when local governments are struggling, these projects are sham water planning efforts that will benefit a small group of private landowners at the expense of taxpayers and the environment,” said Sally Bethea, Executive Director and Riverkeeper of Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper.

“Consistent, cold, clean instream flows are required to sustain this unique urban fishery which is both a recreational and economic resource for the Atlanta Metro area,” said Kevin McGrath, President of the Upper Chattahoochee Chapter of Trout Unlimited.

“We need a clean and abundant water supply for our product, not a river that’s threatened by overuse and pollution,” said Steve Farace, SweetWater Brewing Company.

“This “most endangered” status for the Chattahoochee underscores not just the threat to the environment, but the threat to taxpayers who are being asked to pay for incredibly expensive and unneeded reservoir projects that will negatively impact our river system,” said Barbara Payne, Executive Director of Fulton County Taxpayers Foundation.

The Chattahoochee River provides drinking water for millions in metro Atlanta, is one of America’s best trout streams, and was recently designated as our country’s first National Water Trail. Just last month, the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river system as a whole was named one of America’s Great Waters by the America’s Great Waters Coalition, an alliance of groups from the local to the national level involved in protecting, and in some cases restoring, the health of American water resources. The Chattahoochee has been listed as one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers® in past years –in 1996, 1998, and 2000 for threats including development, sewage, water withdrawals, and dams.

Now in its 27th year, the annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers® report is a list of rivers at a crossroads, where key decisions in the coming months will determine the rivers’ fates. Over the years, the report has helped spur many successes including the removal of outdated dams, the protection of rivers with Wild and Scenic designations, and the prevention of harmful development and pollution.

America’s Most Endangered Rivers® of 2012:
#1: Potomac River (MD, VA, PA, WV, DC)
Threat: Pollution
At risk: Clean water and public health

#2: Green River (WY, UT, CO)
Threat: Water withdrawals
At risk: Recreation opportunities and fish and wildlife habitat

#3: Chattahoochee River (GA)
Threat: New dams and reservoirs
At risk: Clean water and healthy fisheries

#4: Missouri River (IA, KS, MN, MO, MT, NE, ND, SD, WY)
Threat: Outdated flood management
At risk: Public safety

#5: Hoback River (WY)
Threat: Natural gas development
At stake: Clean water and world-class fish and wildlife

#6: Grand River (OH)
Threat: Natural gas development
At risk: Clean water and public health

#7: South Fork Skykomish River (WA)
Threat: New dam
At risk: Habitat and recreation

#8: Crystal River (CO)
Threat: Dams and water diversions
At risk: Fish, wildlife, and recreation

#9: Coal River (WV)
Threat: Mountaintop removal coal mining
At risk: Clean water and public health

#10: Kansas River (KS)
Threat: Sand and gravel dredging
At risk: Public health and wildlife habitat


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About American Rivers

About American Rivers

American Rivers protects wild rivers, restores damaged rivers, and conserves clean water for people and nature. Since 1973, American Rivers has protected and restored more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and an annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers® campaign. Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 200,000 members, supporters, and volunteers.

Rivers connect us to each other, nature, and future generations. Find your connections at AmericanRivers.org, Facebook.com/AmericanRivers, and Twitter.com/AmericanRivers.