ATLANTA - The Georgia Water Coalition, a water protection watchdog group, has named its "Dirty Dozen" for 2012, and two of the offenders are located in Hall County.
Coalition officials say the annual list exposes the worse threats to Georgia's water supply. This is the second year the group has published the list.
A proposed landfill expansion along Allen Creek and the proposed Glades reservoir made the 2012 roster.
A press statement released Wednesday morning stated the following about the two "offenders."
"Flat Creek: Boondoggle Reservoir Project Threatens Lake Lanier, Chattahoochee River and Downstream Communities
"The Chattahoochee River supplies drinking water to nearly four million people in metro Atlanta. For decades, the river has been the center of a water dispute between Georgia, Alabama and Florida. The Chattahoochee has suffered from extreme droughts while serving as ground zero in the ongoing conflict over water use in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) basin. These events have fueled Georgia's misguided strategy to circumvent federal control over the Chattahoochee by damming its tributaries. The most glaring example of this strategy is Hall County's proposed $95 million Glades Reservoir on Flat Creek which flows into the Chattahoochee River and Lake Lanier. This project would divert and impound water that would otherwise fill Lake Lanier, interfering with federal management of the lake and complicating efforts to reach a water sharing agreement with Alabama and Florida. While local support for the project has waned recently, Gov. Deal has indicated that he might come to the rescue with state funds to prop up the floundering project.
"Allen Creek: Politically-Connected Landfill Operators Threaten Streams, Minority Community
"On the south side of Gainesville in Hall County, the predominantly minority community of Newtown has fought for more than half a century to protect their homes, health and property values from harmful industrial pollution. Today, they face the proposed expansion of a landfill that processes food waste, biosolids and sewage sludge. Already, nearby residents say that odor from the facility is so unbearable that children, at times, cannot play outside. Promoted by politically-powerful individuals with ties to Gov. Nathan Deal, expansion of the Gainesville Waste and Recycling (GWAR) landfill poses a serious threat to Allen Creek and the Oconee River and to the health of families in Newtown. This site is an example of the hundreds of industrial operations statewide that are not fully complying with pollution regulations to stop the flow of bacteria, excess nutrients, toxic substances and other contaminants into Georgia's waterways.
Sally Bethea, the director of Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, said Governor Deal needs to take note that these problems exist in his home county.
"We will certainly hope that he looks at this closely and takes action so that we can get these two things off the list," she said. "They are both significant problems for the environment, for our water resources and for our local taxpayers."
The proposed landfill expansion, approved just last week by the Hall County Commission, garnered more attention than the Glades project at Wednesday's tele-conference.
Bethea said a major concern with the landfill project is possible composting at the site. She said just because there is a provision in the rezoning request for that calls for the Hall County to prohibit such activity, there's no guarantee that will happen. She said the current C&D landfill is full of rotting debris.
"Down the slippery slope it went and became available for bio-solids and food waste," she said.
MaKara Rumley with GreenLaw agreed, noting that the county has fallen short in taking responsibility for activity at the current landfill.
"While they [developers]did get EPD approval, they didn't get the necessary Hall County approval that they needed to get," said Rumley.
Rumley said her group will be carefully watching the process as the landfill expansion moves closer to final approval by the state.
The Georgia Water Coalition is a consortium of 175 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 more than 300,000 Georgians.