Who protects rivers?
It is everyone’s job to protect our rivers. Each of our individual actions, no matter how seemingly small, collectively make a difference for our rivers and the wildlife that depend on them. There are also several non-profits, citizen groups, and government agencies that work on different aspects of river protection ranging from education to direct action.
From national scale non-profits like American Rivers to 30+watershed groups and Riverkeepers, there are many groups working for river protection in Georgia. Watershed groups and Riverkeepers primarily focus on issues in their basin, although they are frequently also involved at the statewide and national level. Riverkeepers are organizations that are licensed by the Waterkeeper Alliance. Georgia River Network is a statewide non-profit that exists to network and provide resources to the groups across the state and direct citizens to organizations in their area.
The Georgia Water Coalition
The Georgia Water Coalition is a consortium of more than 240 conservation and environmental organizations, hunting and fishing groups, businesses, and faith-based organizations that have been working to protect Georgia’s water since 2002. Collectively, these organizations represent thousands of Georgians. The Georgia Water Coalition’s mission is to protect and care for Georgia’s surface and groundwater resources, which are essential for sustaining economic prosperity, providing clean and abundant drinking water, preserving diverse aquatic habitats for wildlife and recreation, strengthening property values, and protecting the quality of life for future generations. Georgia River Network is a member of the leadership team for the Georgia Water Coalition, acts as the fiscal agent for the Coalition, manages the website, serves as a public contact, manages the partner regrant program, assists with the Clean 13 celebration, sends press releases and manages the press database. To learn how your organization can become a partner, by visiting the website at https://www.garivers.org/about-us/partners-2
Local governments are often a great starting point for addressing water issues.
The state Environmental Protection Division (EPD) is responsible for protecting and restoring Georgia’s environment. EPD is housed within the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). At the state level, the Environmental Protection Division (EPD) Watershed Protection Branch handles permitting and has an outreach division that includes RiversAlive and Georgia Adopt-A-Stream. The Board of Natural Resources “sets the rules and regulations for air and water quality, hunting seasons and bag limits, and other issues,” including hazardous waste management, water withdrawal permitting, fishing regulations and emergency response.
The Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) “offers financing for drinking water, reservoir and water supply, water quality, storm water and solid waste infrastructure.” Financing can be obtained through different funds, including the Governor’s Water Supply Program.
The University of Georgia also has a River Basin Center (Eugene P. Odum School of Ecology, University of Georgia).