Flint River

Quick Facts about the River

·         The Flint River, which is contained entirely within the state of Georgia, originates on the southern edge of the Atlanta metropolitan area under the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, in Clayton County, and flows southerly in a wide eastward arc to Decatur County in southwest Georgia, before flowing into Lake Seminole.  Here, the river joins with the Chattahoochee River as the two flow across the Georgia-Florida border, and the name changes to the Apalachicola River, which flows on to the Gulf of Mexico.  The entire basin is often referred to as the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACT) basin.

·         The Flint River first sees the light of day at the mouth of a concrete culvert on the south side of Virginia Avenue in Hapeville, just north of Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport.

·         The length of the main stem of the Flint River is 349 river miles, and it drains an area of 8,460 square miles.

·         The Flint River flows unimpeded for nearly 220 river miles, which makes it one of only 40 rivers in the U.S. that flow more than 200 river miles unimpeded.

·         The Flint River has one of only 42 free-flowing river reaches longer than 125 miles remaining in the contiguous 48 states.

·         Using satellite imagery, total wetland acreage in the Flint River Basin has been estimated at about 412,000 acres; approximately 90,000 acres are in the forested floodplain of the Flint River Basin and floodplains and swamps associated with Chickasawhatchee and Spring Creeks.

·         In 2009 and 2013, American Rivers listed the Flint River as one of the most endangered rivers in America.

Biological Resources

·         The Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) Basin has the largest diversity of fish fauna among the Gulf Coast river drainages east of the Mississippi River.

·         Seventeen species have been introduced into the ACF Basin by humans, including rainbow and brown trout, white catfish, flathead catfish, and more.

·         The lower part of the Flint River Basin, together with the upper part of the Apalachicola Basin, has the highest species density of amphibians and reptiles on the continent, north of Mexico.

·         The Flint River basin is home to four federally protected mussel species: The Shinyrayed pocketbook mussel, Gulf mocassinshell mussel, and the Oval pigtoe mussel are listed as endangered species. The Purple bankclimber mussel is listed as a threatened species.

·         A new species of fish, called the Halloween Darter, is found only in the Flint, Chattahoochee and Apalachicola Rivers. The Halloween Darter, or Percina crypta, is a small fish that requires a habitat of swiftly flowing water over rocky shoals.

·         The Shoal bass, a species of freshwater fish in the sunfish family, is considered the signature species of the Flint River.

River Uses

·         Municipal and Industrial Uses

o    NPDES Discharges: As of 2008, there are approximately 100 facilities, including industries and municipalities, authorized to discharge wastewater into the Flint River Basin pursuant to NPDES permits.

·         Energy Uses

o    Georgia Power Company operates its fossil-fueled Plant Mitchell facility by withdrawing water from the Flint River in the Flint River Basin.

·         Agricultural Uses

o    As of 2013, the EPD had issued 6,721 agricultural water withdrawal permits in the Flint River Basin.

·         Impoundments

o    Three hydropower dams—the Crisp County Power Dam, Georgia Power’s Flint River Dam, and the federal Jim Woodruff Dam—impound run-of-the-river reservoirs (which means that the amount of water flowing through the dam is the same amount flowing into the reservoir from the river upstream). The dams alter the daily flow regime.

§  Crisp County Power Dam, which was built in 1930 and is operated by the Crisp County Power Commission, forms Lake Blackshear.

§  Flint River Dam, which was built in 1908 and is operated by Georgia Power, forms Lake Worth.

§  Jim Woodruff Dam, which is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, impounds Lake Seminole on the Georgia-Florida border.

o    The Flint River lacks impoundments for more than 200 river miles.

Recreation

·         The Flint River was declared the #1 most scenic stream out of the 53 studied in Georgia in 1976 by the Department of Natural Resources.

·         Sprewell Bluff State Park promotes family activities such as fishing, swimming, trails for hiking, grills and tables for cookouts, a playground area, and restrooms. The park provides a boat ramp for floaters to access the river. For more information, visit http://www.thomastonchamber.com/sprewellBluff.html.

History

·         Natural

o    A record flood occurred in July 1994 as a result of heavy rains produced by Tropical Storm Alberto. In the Upper Flint Basin, this flood exceeded the 100-year recurrence interval, which means there is only a 1 percent probability that this section of the river will experience a flow of this magnitude in any given year.

·         Cultural

o    More than 300 years ago, a Creek Indian village existed near what is now Albany.

o    After the American Revolution (1775-1783), the Creeks, who had supported the British, were faced with land-hungry American settlers eager to push into Creek territory and an American government somewhat intent on manifest destiny.

o    In 1796, President George Washington appointed Colonel Benjamin Hawkins as Indian Agent on the Flint River. Hawkins's philosophy to integrate the Indians into the white culture by teaching them the skills of modern farming and industry was noble but difficult to implement. Some Creeks, mostly in the Lower Towns, realized the advantages of cooperating with the Americans, but other, younger Creeks, mostly living in the Upper Towns, rejected contact with whites and the consequent abandonment of their Indian culture.

o    In the 1960s, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed its plan to build the Sprewell Bluff multiple purpose dam on the Flint River. Governor James Earl “Jimmy” Carter vetoed the proposal in 1974 and Congress officially deauthorized the project in 1986 during President Ronald Reagan’s administration.

River Groups

·         GRN has compiled a complete list of watershed groups in Georgia online: http://www.garivers.org/protect-your-river/discover-a-local-river-group.html

Environmental Concerns

·         305(b)/303(d) Listings

o    In the Flint River Basin, there are approximately 95 rivers and streams listed on the 2012 integrated 305(b)/303(d) list as waters not supporting their designated uses. These impaired waters include roughly 746 miles of rivers and streams in the Flint River Basin.

·         Fish Consumption Advisories: View EPD’s “Guidelines for Eating Fish from Georgia’s Waters” online: http://epd.georgia.gov/fish-consumption-guidelines