Shirley Franklin would have never become the "sewer mayor" were it not for all the poop Atlanta was spewing into the Chattahoochee River every time it rained. Stir in some agricultural runoff, industrial waste, and fast-food packaging, and we've been sending some serious sludge down the river to our friends in Alabama and Florida. It's amazing the river is still as beautiful as it is.
The Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper has been patrolling, protecting and cleaning up the Chattahoochee River watershed (including its many tributaries) since 1994. Members monitor water quality, lobby the state Legislature for clean-water policies, educate Georgians about healthy river practices and, when necessary, take direct action to protect the river. The organization also sponsors recreational activities: Eight paddling trips are planned in 2006. Says Executive Director Sally Bethea, "We're trying to get people out on the river to know it, understand it and love it -- to understand the threats, but embrace the river."
What You Can Do
While river cleanups are held mostly in the spring and fall, you can start planning one with your friends or colleagues now. Or volunteer to adopt a stream in the watershed (many are in Atlanta), monitor water quality, help with education programs, or plan upcoming recreational events. Join the Riverkeeper for $25, or volunteer for two hours and the fee will be waived.
Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, 916 Joseph Lowery Blvd. 404-352-9828. www.chattahoochee.org.