ATLANTA — Georgia’s two Democratic U.S. senators have introduced legislation to protect the Chattahoochee River.

The bill authorizes $90 million for projects to improve water quality in the Chattahoochee, protect essential public works and restore ecosystems along the river. Individual projects would be allocated up to $15 million.

“The Chattahoochee River is one of Georgia’s most precious natural resources, vital to Georgia’s drinking water, agriculture, and our natural environment,” Sen. Jon Ossoff said. “That’s why I’ve written this bill to protect, preserve, and restore the Chattahoochee River for generations to come,”
“While the Chattahoochee River’s water quality has improved in recent years, there are still 1,000 miles of Chattahoochee watershed waterways that do not meet water-quality standards,” Sen. Raphael Warnock added. “Clean water is essential for heathy and thriving communities.”

The legislation would give the secretary of the Army up to two years to work with other federal agencies — including the Interior Department — to develop a comprehensive restoration plan for the Chattahoochee River Basin.
The federal government would cover 80% of project costs, to be accompanied by a 20% non-federal match.

According to the Georgia River Network, the Chattahoochee supplies 70% of metro Atlanta’s drinking water. As of 2013, the state of Georgia had approved more than 6,700 water withdrawal permits for agricultural use.

In 2019, the National Park Service reported visitors to the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area added more than $200 million to the local economy, supporting more than 2,000 local jobs.

This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.

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