Quick Facts about the River
- The headwaters of the Ogeechee River are located in the southeastern edge of the Piedmont Province. In the headwaters, the North and South Fork Ogeechee Rivers join to form the Ogeechee River which runs 245 miles in a southeasterly direction to the Atlantic Ocean.
- The Ogeechee River Basin is located entirely in the State of Georgia and drains approximately 5,540 square miles. The River’s drainage to the coast plays a significant role in forming Wassaw, Ossabaw, St. Catherines, Blackbeard, and Sapelo islands.
- Wetlands comprise 13 percent of the basin.
- The Ogeechee River is a blackwater stream and one of Georgia’s few remaining free flowing rivers.
- The Ogeechee River is the dominant waterbody in the basin, while its principal tributary, the Canoochee River, drains approximately 1,400 square miles and is the only other major river in the basin.
- With intimate swamps and bottomland hardwoods adjoining the river, the Ogeechee River Basin retains a pristine quality and provides food, water, and shelter for large numbers of raccoon, deer, otter, beaver, and mink.
- Trees found in the wetter areas include tupelo and cypress, and the bottomlands support water oak, laurel oak, red maple, swamp blackgum, and sweet gum.
- The river has a namesake tree, the Ogeechee lime (Nyssa ogeche), whose bright red fruits are found floating in quiet eddies of the river during the fall.
- Several rare plants are also found near the river, including pitcher plants, witch-alder, needle palm, spider lily, and others.
- The fish fauna of the Ogeechee River Basin includes American shad, redbreast, crappie, striped bass, shellcracker, and catfish. The endangered shortnose sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum) breeds in the basin.
- Drinking Water Uses
- The Ogeechee River Basin provides drinking water for nearly 394,000 people in the state of Georgia by municipal or privately owned public water systems.
- The basin contains one community public water system utilizing surface water and serving 2,800 people, and 355 community public water systems utilizing groundwater and serving roughly 368,000 people.
- Municipal and Industrial Uses
- Currently, the Ogeechee River Basin contains only two surface water withdrawal permits, one industrial and one municipal.
- There are no municipal water supply storage reservoirs or hydroelectric plants in the Ogeechee River Basin.
- NPDES Discharge Permits: As of 2018, there are approximately 67 facilities, including industries and municipalities, authorized to discharge wastewater into the Ogeechee River Basin pursuant to NPDES permits.
- Agricultural Uses
- As of 2018, the EPD had issued 1,852 agricultural water withdrawal permits in the Ogeechee River Basin.
- One impoundment is found on the Ogeechee River, at Ogeechee River Mill, not far from the headwaters.
- Forestry is a major part of the economy in the Ogeechee River Basin.
- Agriculture represents a significant land use activity in the basin, supporting a variety of animal operations and commodity production.Bullock and Tattnall Counties rank in the top ten with respect to swine production.
- A.H. Stephens State Historical Park: This site combines the recreational opportunities of a state park with the educational resources of a historic site.
- Fort McAllister State Historical Park: Nestled among giant live oaks and beautiful salt marsh, this park offers a museum of Civil War artifacts as well as camping, hiking, fishing and picnicking facilities.
- Hamburg State Park: For more information, visit https://www.gastateparks.org/Hamburg/.
- Blackbeard Island National Wildlife Refuge: The Island’s 5,618 acres are characterized by a series of long, low parallel ridges forested mainly with live oaks and slash pines. It is accessible only by boat. Arrangements for trips to the refuge can be made at Shellman’s Bluff or the public boat ramp on Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge can be used as a launching site for trips to the island. Blackbeard Island offers a variety of recreational activities year-round, including bird watching, hiking trails, fishing in two freshwater ponds and saltwater creeks, and archery hunts for deer.
- Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge: The 10,053-acre refuge includes beaches with rolling dunes, maritime forest, and vast salt marshes. The refuge is bordered by the Wilmington River and Wassaw Sound on the north, the Vernon River and Ossabaw Sound on the south, and the Atlantic Ocean on the east. Refugee visitors may enjoy recreational activities such as birdwatching, beachcombing, hiking and general natural studies. For more information, visit https://www.fws.gov/wassaw/.
- 305(b)/303(d) ListingsIn the Ogeechee River Basin, there are approximately 46 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 539 miles of rivers and streams in the Ogeechee River Basin.
- Fish Consumption Advisories: View EPD’s “Guidelines for Eating Fish from Georgia’s Waters” online: https://epd.georgia.gov/fish-consumption-guidelines
- Paleo-Indian societies arrived in the area of the Ogeechee River around 11,500 years ago, and the river was settled for several centuries by the Mississipians and Yuchi until the arrival of Europeans.