SACE | Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

Georgia Water Coalition Names 2013 “Dirty Dozen”


Georgia’s electricity sector was responsible for three of the 12 worst offenses to Georgia’s water resources

For more information contact:

Jennifer Rennicks, 865-235-1448,

April Ingle, 706-549-4508,


Atlanta, Ga. (November 13, 2013) – Today, Georgia’s leading water protection group, the Georgia Water Coalition, named its “Dirty Dozen” for 2013, highlighting 12 of the year’s worst offenses to Georgia’s waters. The annual Dirty Dozen report shines a spotlight on state policies and failures that ultimately harm Georgia property owners, taxpayers, downstream communities, fish and wildlife, hunters and anglers, and boaters and swimmers. Due in part to Georgia Water Coalition member Southern Alliance for Clean Energy’s (SACE) efforts, resource-polluting and water-intensive nuclear and coal-fired power plants such as Plant Vogtle and Plant Scherer earned the dubious honor of appearing in this year’s list.


“The Dirty Dozen is not a list of the most polluted water bodies in Georgia, nor are they ranked in any particular order,” said April Ingle, Executive Director of the Georgia River Network. “It’s a list of problems that exemplify the results of inadequate funding for environmental protections, lack of political will to enforce environmental laws and ultimately misguided water planning and spending priorities that flow from the very top of Georgia’s leadership.”


The Coalition’s full report details the history of each selection and suggests solutions to correct these ongoing problems and eliminate the listed threats. It is available online at:


This is the first year that a coal ash waste impoundment site made the Dirty Dozen list — Plant Scherer on the Ocmulgee River. “In Georgia at least 17 billion gallons of coal ash waste are stored in huge lagoons that are mostly aging, unlined and close to waterways,” said Ulla Reeves of SACE. “Coal ash is full of toxic heavy metals, a hazardous waste by definition, though current Georgia and federal regulations fail to protect vital waterways and communities from pollution and the threat of another catastrophic dam failure as we saw in Kingston, Tennessee five years ago.”


“Over the past decade, the health of Georgia’s waterways and the health and safety of Georgia citizens has been compromised as funding for Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division (EPD) has not kept pace with population and economic growth” said Gordon Rogers, the Flint Riverkeeper.


Just a few of the problems highlighted in today’s report include:

  • Existing and proposed coal-fired and nuclear power plants (items 6, 8 and 12—representing four different plants) that harm water quality and quantity in Georgia’s rivers by withdrawing massive amounts of water, disharging heated water back to the waterways, and generating toxic pollution from coal ash dumps and airborn pollution.
  • Aging dams in danger of failing are going without inspection (Item 9); these ticking time bombs threaten life, property and the health of our rivers.
  • Governor Nathan Deal’s administration continues a pattern of misguided funding priorities that invariably benefit the administration’s political cronies. While EPD’s budget is starved, creating multiple negative impacts on Georgia’s citizens, Governor Deal has directed more than $160 million during the past two years to expensive, unnecessary and environmentally damaging dam and reservoir projects (Item 2). These projects serve only to prolong Georgia’s ongoing water conflicts with Alabama and Florida.


“This year’s Dirty Dozen report clearly reflects the large, negative impacts that the electricity sector is having and will continue to have on Georgia’s precious water resources unless wiser decisions are made about the state’s energy future,” said Sara Barczak, program director SACE. “The water-hogging new nuclear reactors proposed for Plant Vogtle along the Savannah River, for example, will make an already bad situation much worse. Less water intensive energy options, such as wind, solar and energy efficiency, exist and can protect our water resources.”


The impacts of energy production on our region’s water resources were closely examined by the Union of Concerned Scientists through their Energy and Water in a Warming World (EW3) initiative, which included a look at the impacts of future energy choices. Access more information here.


“The Georgia Water Coalition publishes this annual list as a call to action for our state’s leaders and its citizens to come together to correct pollution problems, eliminate the wasteful use of our state and local tax dollars and restore our streams, rivers, lakes and coastal wetlands,” said Ingle.




The Georgia Water Coalition is a consortium of more than 207 conservation and environmental organizations, including the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, as well as 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.


2013 Dirty Dozen

  1. Floridan Aquifer: Water Injection Schemes Gamble with South Georgia’s Pristine Underground “Lake”
  2. Chattahoochee and Etowah Rivers: Governor’s Water Supply Program Wastes Tax Dollars & Incites More Water Conflicts with Neighbors
  3. Flint River: Pumps, Dams, Diversions & State Water Policy Create Man-Made Drought
  4. Altamaha River: Pulp Mill in Jesup Continues to Foul Georgia’s Largest River
  5. Flat Creek: Polluted Runoff in Chicken Capital Sends Bacteria to Stream Feeding Lake Lanier
  6. Ocmulgee River: Coal Ash Threatens Waterways and Communities In the Home of Fried Green Tomatoes
  7. Satilla River: Toxic Legacy in Waycross Needs Further Investigations, Cleanups
  8. Savannah River: Massive Water Withdrawals for Nuclear, Coal-Fired Power Plants Threaten River’s Health, Drinking Water
  9. Lake Alice: Dam Breach Disaster in Cumming Highlights Need for Better Dam Safety
  10. Georgia Coast: Proposed Changes to Coastline Laws Roll Back Long-Standing Protections
  11. Hurricane Creek: Illegal Playground for Off-Road Vehicles Sends Mountains of Sediment to Trout Stream
  12. Oconee and Ogeechee Rivers: Dirty Coal-Fired Power Plant to Spew Mercury and Deplete South Georgia Rivers