River Protection 101

If you live in Georgia, the water that you drink, cook with, and shower in comes from one of two places: either it's pumped out of your local river, stream or reservoir, or it comes from a well that draws on groundwater. Either way, the health and cleanliness of the wet stuff that nourishes and cleans you has a lot to do with the health and cleanliness of the creek down the street from your house.

Your local river most likely provides drinking water to your kitchen sink, but it's also where treated sewage from your town is dumped, where your local industry releases its wastewater and where toxic runoff from parking lots, golf courses and construction sites ends up after it rains. Our waterways face problems like these every day, and protecting the quality and health of the rivers in your community isn't an easy job. 

This page has lots of useful resources that can help you protect your local river, no matter how much time and energy you have to get involved. Here are some steps you can take:


A good place to start working for clean water in your community is by joining groups that work to protect rivers all over Georgia, every day. By joining a river group you're not only investing in clean water, but you're linking into a great source of water news and information.  


There are plenty of fun, educational ways your family can make a difference to your river -- and they're closer than you think! 

  • Help Build a Water Trail! A succesful Water Trail is created and sustained by a partnership of stakeholders whose membership includes all sectors of a community (landowners, local and state agencies, county and city officials, river enthusiasts, educators, watershed groups, local businesses, attorneys, outfitters, etc.). Water Trails are an effective way to introduce people to river issues and to engage them in the protection of their local waterways via increased river access and recreational opportunities. Water Trails also boost tourism and economic development within communities and throughout the state and as a result, strengthen our ability to effectively advocate for strong protections for Georgia‚Äôs rivers. Find out if there is an established or developing water trail in your community on our Clearinghouse- and if there is not- then find out how to start your own by using Georgia River Network's Water Trail Toolkit and contacting This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information. Also be sure to sign up for the Georgia Water Trails Newsletter which includes water trail updates and useful resources as well as upcoming workshops, paddling trips, and other exciting news regarding water trails in the U.S.

  • Volunteer! Your local river group could really use your help. Call them up and see what you can do to help! Visit our river group directory to find who is protecting water in your community.

  • Monitor! The stream that runs through your backyard or under the bridge at the end of your street is important, and the health of that creek makes a difference to the health of downstream rivers -- and people. Georgia Adopt-A-Stream provides tools and training for citizens like you to keep track of the health of their local streams. Contact them for more information, or to schedule or attend a workshop.

    And if you've noticed your local stream running red with mud lately, you might think about monitoring your neighborhood for sources of erosion -- probably a construction site. Get the Dirt Out is a statewide program dedicated to educating and empowering citizens to hold developers accountable for construction-related pollution. Visit the Get the Dirt Out website HERE

  • Clean Up! If you spend any time around rivers and streams, you know a lot of them are clogged with litter. This is damaging to wildlife, water quality and the beauty of a wild place. Many river groups organize community river clean-ups that make it easy to beautify your local waterways. In addition, October is National River Clean-up Month, so each autumn, keep a lookout for news about clean-ups in your area. To find out about clean-ups in your area, visit the Rivers Alive website or contact your local river group.

3) FIND OUT WHO REPRESENTS YOU AND YOUR RIVERS (and let them know what clean water means to you!)

Much of the time, a problem on your local waterway could be fixed -- or at least alleviated -- by a good local ordinance or piece of legislation. Getting to know the men and women who represent you at every level of government is important because they are there to help.  

Click here to learn more about who represents you and how to interact with them.


Find out the laws that ensure that all of us have clean, healthy drinking water -- and plenty of it:


The Internet is a big place, and there are a lot of good resources out there to help you understand the water issues you care about. However, it's hard to know where to start looking. Well, start here, and go where the paths lead you!

We work to collect the best information out there on water issues in Georgia, and we try to keep the information up to date. A good place to start looking is our Current River Issues page, which details some of the issues we think are important. Another place to look is our Georgia Water Wire blog, which provides an informed look at water-related topics in the news.

We also want to learn what YOU know. If, in your search for information, you find a great resource that you think would help others who were on the same quest as you, please drop us a line at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we'll post it here.

For more technical watershed management information, click here.