Quick Facts About the River

  • The Satilla River originates in Ben Hill County, then flows eastward and a little southward for approximately 200 miles, before emptying into St. Andrews Sound and the Atlantic Ocean in Camden County.
  • The Satilla River Basin is composed primarily of the Satilla River, Little Satilla River, and Turtle River. Some major waterways in the basin include the Alabaha River, Seventeen Mile Creek and Hurricane Creek.
  • The basin, which comprises all land areas draining into the river, occupies a total
    area of 3,940 square miles.
  • The Satilla River Basin includes part or all of 15 Georgia counties; however, only two are entirely within the basin. Waycross and Wray are two cities located in the basin.
  • The Satilla River is a blackwater stream consisting of tannins and other natural leachates, which cause the river to have a darkly stained appearance and have unique physical and chemical characteristics and dissolved oxygen characteristics.
Biological Resources
  • There are 52 species of fish that live in the Satilla River Basin and together they represent 16 families.
  • Species diversity is limited by acidic water, low alkalinity, extreme variation in flows, and the relatively homogenous habitat present through most of the river.
  • The Satilla River supplies major fisheries for redbreast sunfish and catfish.
  •  The banded topminnow is a rare species that occurs in the basin.
River Uses
  • Drinking Water Uses
    • The main source of drinking water in the Satilla River Basin is provided by groundwater.
  • Energy Uses
    • Georgia Power Company operates its fossil-fueled Plant McManus by withdrawing water from the Turtle River in the Satilla River Basin.
  • Municipal and Industrial Uses
    • The basin contains two industrial surface water withdrawal permits.
    • NPDES Discharge Permits: As of 2018, there are approximately 46 facilities, including industries and municipalities, authorized to discharge wastewater into the Satilla River Basin pursuant to NPDES permits.
  • Agricultural Uses
    • As of 2018, the EPD had issued 2,412 agricultural water withdrawal permits in the Satilla River Basin.
  • Impoundments
    • The Satilla River is a free-flowing river, unimpeded by dams.
Land Uses
  • A 1988-90 land cover interpretation showed 37 percent of the basin in forest cover, 24 percent in wetlands, 2 percent in urban land cover, and 18 percent in agriculture.
  • All major commodities that are grown in Georgia (peanuts, corn, cotton, oats, rye, sorghum, soybeans, and tobacco) are produced in the basin.
  • The Laura Walker State Park is the only publicly owned lake in the Satilla River Basin. This blackwater lake is approximately 110 acres in size and has fisheries for largemouth bass, bluegill, catfish, chain pickerel, and flier.
  • Crooked River State Park is located on the south bank of the Crooked River and offers a boat ramp. Visitors may venture to the nearby ruins of the tabby McIntosh Sugar Works mill, built around 1825. The mill was later used as a starch factory during the Civil War. Just down the road is the ferry to Cumberland Island.
  • General Coffee State Park is known for interpretation of agricultural history.Its Heritage Farm demonstrates this history with log cabins, a corn crib, tobacco barn, cane mill, barnyard animals and other exhibits. Seventeen Mile River winds through a cypress swamp with rare and endangered plants. The threatened indigo snake and gopher tortoise also make their homes in this sawgrass community. Overnight accommodations include a nicely decorated 19th century cabin. The park was donated to the state by a group of Coffee County citizens in 1970 and is named after General John Coffee, planter, U.S. congressman and military leader.
  • George L. Smith State Park is best known for the newly refurbished Parrish Mill, a combination gristmill, sawmill, covered bridge and dam built in 1880 and now open for tours. Anglers and canoeists can explore the mill pond, dotted with Spanish moss-draped trees and home to the blue heron and white ibis. Hikers can experience 11 miles of trails covering wiregrass terrain, home to the rare gopher tortoise, Georgia’s state reptile.
River Groups

Satilla Riverkeeper

Click on the name of the group to view additional details in our online group directory.

Environmental Concerns
  • 305(b)/303(d) ListingsIn the Satilla River Basin, there are approximately 34 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 437 miles of rivers and streams in the Satilla River Basin.
  • Fish Consumption Advisories: View EPD’s “Guidelines for Eating Fish from Georgia’s Waters” online: https://epd.georgia.gov/fish-consumption-guidelines
  • Cultural
    • In early times, the Satilla River Basin was known for abundant game, and fur trappers tried their skills along the riverbanks. A pre-Revolutionary War fort, known as Burnt Fort, is located where the GA 252 bridge crosses the Satilla River.
    • Historically, the river was part of a large transportation and subsistence network for the expansive Creek Indian Nation.

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