Sen. Ossoff briefed leaders on the bill in February
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff’s bill to preserve and protect the Chattahoochee River is now law.
Sen. Ossoff’s Chattahoochee River Act will help improve water quality, protect essential public works, and restore ecosystems along the river — which are all vital to Georgia’s drinking water supply, agricultural industry, power generation, and more.
The first-of-its-kind law authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to work on water projects up and down the Chattahoochee River throughout the state of Georgia.
The bill was signed into law as part of this year’s Water Resources and Development Act reauthorization.
“This exciting new program will improve water quality, protect essential public works, and restore ecosystems along the river, which supplies much of our state’s drinking water. I thank my colleagues in both parties for supporting my legislation, which is now law,” Sen. Ossoff said.
“Chattahoochee Riverkeeper applauds Congress for including the Chattahoochee River Program in the Water Resources Development Act,” said Jason Ulseth, the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper. “The Chattahoochee River Program will encourage co-operation between federal and state agencies, and stakeholders. Chattahoochee Riverkeeper looks forward to implementation of this program to protect and restore a river millions of people depend on.”
“Senator Ossoff’s new law builds upon the successful efforts of improving Chattahoochee River water quality during the last fifteen years. It is hard to overstate the importance of this river to Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. This law will provide Georgia and Alabama with new tools to continue the vital conservation and restoration of this precious natural resource for all users,” said Katherine Moore, Georgia Conservancy President.
Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock co-sponsored the Senate bill, and Congresswoman Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-GA-07) led introduction of the House companion alongside Congressman Hank Johnson (D-GA-04), Congresswoman Nikema Williams (D-GA-05), Congresswoman Lucy McBath (D-GA-06), and Congressman David Scott (D-GA-13).
“Clean water is essential for healthy and thriving communities,” said Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock. “While the Chattahoochee River’s water quality has improved in recent years, hundreds of miles of Chattahoochee watershed waterways still do not meet water-quality standards. I’m proud to have worked with Senator Ossoff to ensure this provision that will invest in improving, protecting, and preserving the Chattahoochee River gets signed into law.”
“I am very pleased to see the Chattahoochee River Act finally become law,” Congresswoman Bourdeaux said. “The Chattahoochee River meets so many critical needs for Georgians. Thank you to Senator Ossoff and my Georgia colleagues for their support in protecting and preserving Georgia’s drinking water and natural resources for future generations.”
“We know more than 1,000 miles of waterway within the Chattahoochee River Basin watershed do not meet water quality standards,” said Congressman Johnson. “Implementing a Comprehensive Chattahoochee River Basin Restoration Plan will restore the Chattahoochee River, protect Atlanta’s drinking water, and safeguard this vital natural resource that generates more than $200 million for our local economy and thousands of jobs. I commend Sen. Ossoff and Congresswoman Bourdeaux for their leadership in preserving this resource for future generations.”
“I am committed to ensuring environmental justice for all, which includes passing the Chattahoochee River Act,” Congresswoman Williams said. “This legislation will protect the most important natural resource in Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District now and for generations to come.”
According to the Georgia River Network, the Chattahoochee supplies 70 percent of metro Atlanta’s drinking water.
The river is also a key source of water for farmers and agriculture, and it’s a key source of power through hydroelectric dams. As of 2013, the state of Georgia has approvedmore 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 over 2,000 local jobs.
According to Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, more than 1,000 miles of waterway within the Chattahoochee watershed do not meet water quality standards, creating potential health risks to both humans and wildlife.