Chattahoochee and other waterways key to summer fun

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Environment Georgia

Atlanta, GA. – Nearly 9 million people visited state parks that feature waterways like the Chattahoochee and the Flint, according to Environment Georgia’s new Summer Fun Index. The new fact sheet comes as summer draws to close, and as officials consider a new rule to restore protections for 57% of the state’s rivers and streams.

“We all know clean water means summer fun. There’s nothing quite like kayaking the Chattahoochee or fishing in the Flint,” said Marlaina Maddux, organizer with Environment Georgia. “Our Summer Fun Index shows how important it is to protect our waters.”

According to the index, boating and fishing are especially popular here in Georgia, with more than 700,000 fishing licenses purchased last year by both state residents and non-residents.

“This summer was particularly great for business on the river—whitewater rafting along the Chattahoochee is better than anywhere else in the Eastern U.S.! The river is already so much cleaner than it was 15 years ago, and Georgians continue to show their appreciation by coming out to enjoy the waterways every year. ”

Despite their popularity, nearly 40,000 miles of Georgia’s rivers and streams are not guaranteed protection under the nation’s Clean Water Act, thanks to a loophole in the law secured by developers and other polluters nearly a decade ago.

In March, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed a rule to restore protections for the headwaters, streams, and wetlands left in limbo by the loophole; but agribusinesses, oil companies, and others are campaigning heavily against it.

EPA is taking public comments on the measure through the fall. More than 150,000 public comments have been collected throughout the nation. Environment Georgia pointed to the stats on how much people use and enjoy Georgia waterways as further support for EPA’s proposed rule.

“Whether we enjoy them for fishing, boating, or swimming, we all have a stake in the health of the Chattahoochee and the rest of our waterways,” said Rep. Debbie Buckner. “We should be doing everything we can to protect all of our rivers, lakes and streams.”