The Environmental Protection Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources recently conducted the opening hearing of the 2019 Triennial Review. This occurs every three years and provides an opportunity for the EPD to reevaluate the designated usage of water bodies.

The designation of a body of water is based on primary usage and directly correlates to water quality standards. In other words, the designated use determines the stringent nature of permits and fines for pollution.

The three most common designations include: Fishing, Drinking water, and Recreation.
1) Fishing requires the lowest water quality standard of the three because it is only concerned with protecting the growth of aquatic life.
2) Drinking Water is more stringent than fishing and is based off of the assumption that the raw water will be taken in and treated prior to primary contact.
3) Recreation is the most strict of the three and assumes that primary contact will occur with raw water. It includes stricter standards for bacteria.
4) The combination of Drinking water and Recreation designation affords the most protection.

Currently, the Etowah River and the Chattooga River are both designated for Fishing and Drinking water. However, a proposal has been submitted to upgrade both rivers to Recreation. This would mean these rivers would be governed by water quality standards meant to protect paddlers.

We need your help to tell the EPD why they should move forward with changing the designation of both rivers to Recreation. Public participation and open communication with stakeholders is paramount to the success of any change in designated use. A public hearing period is now open. If you personally value recreation on these rivers or if you have a business that depends on these rivers, please submit a comment asking the EPD to designate the Etowah and the Chattooga for Recreation.

Written comments may be sent toEPD.Comments@dnr.ga.gov subject: β€œWater Quality Standards 2019 Triennial Review”

The initial open comment period will expire on March 8, 2019.