Georgia’s leading water protection coalition released its Clean 13 report for 2021. The report highlights individuals, businesses, industries, non-profit organizations and governmental agencies whose extraordinary efforts have led to cleaner rivers, stronger communities and a more sustainable future for Georgians.
“With extreme weather events raging across the globe, sea levels rising on the Georgia coast, and plastic pollution overwhelming our state’s waterways and coast, it seems the environmental problems we face are insurmountable,” said Jesse Demonbreun-Chapman, executive director with the Rome-based Coosa River Basin Initiative. “But, the entities recognized in this report provide us hope. Their actions are directly addressing these threats and leading us toward a more resilient and sustainable future in every corner of the state.”
Together, the efforts of these “Clean 13” are adding up to cleaner rivers, stronger communities and a more resilient and sustainable future for Georgia.
The work highlighted in the report includes:
Athens-Clarke County has embraced clean energy by adopting a goal of making its entire community powered 100 percent by renewable energy sources by 2050.
Blue Bird Bus Corporation (Peach County)
The Blue Bird Bus Corporation has become the country’s leading manufacturer of electric school buses and expects that by 2030 nearly 100 percent of its sales will be for electric and alternative fuel buses.
City of Savannah (Chatham County)
In Savannah where visitors are often seen strolling the streets of the entertainment and historic districts with drinks in hand, the city partnered with local restaurants and bars in on a pilot project to replace plastic to-go cups with infinitely-recyclable, Georgia-made aluminum cups.
City of South Fulton (Fulton County)
In the City of South Fulton nestled along the Chattahoochee River, city leaders this year voted to make their municipality the first in Georgia to implement regulations prohibiting private businesses from using plastic bags.
Georgia Audubon & Southern Conservation Trust (Fayette County)
Near Fayetteville, Georgia Audubon and the Southern Conservation Trust are partnering at Sams Lake Bird Sanctuary to eliminate invasive aquatic and terrestrial plants and restore native plants.
Madison County Clean Power Coalition (Madison and Franklin counties)
In rural Northeast Georgia residents rallied together to fight pollution from two local biomass-to-energy plants.
Mitchell County 4-H (Camilla/Mitchell County)
In partnership with the Stripling Irrigation Research Park in Camilla, Mitchell County 4-H sponsors an annual 4-H20 camp to teach youth about the importance of the state’s water resources.
Hanwha QCELLS North America (Whitfield County)
In 2019, Dalton became home to the largest manufacturer of solar panels in the Western Hemisphere with the opening of Hanwha QCELLS facility which annually produces enough panels to generate 1.7 gigawatts (GW) of electricity.
Dr. Dionne Hoskins-Brown (Chatham County)
During the past 20 years, Dr. Hoskins-Brown’s work has made the historically black university one of the nation’s top producers of marine science graduates—some of whom are now working for NOAA studying how climate change is impacting fisheries and coastal communities.
Patagonia (Fulton County)
Patagonia’s retail store in Atlanta funds local environmental organizations, donates products to these groups and provides employee volunteers for multiple causes. Since 1996, the store has invested $1.3 million in local environmental organizations.
Rep. Andy Welch and Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (Henry County and Floyd County)
Rep. Andy Welch (R-Locust Grove) and Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome) took up the cause championed by the late Rep. Jay Powell of Camilla and during the 2020 General Assembly session successfully secured legislation that restores funding for the state’s environmental trust funds.
White Oak Pastures (Early County)
Will Harris and his team at White Oak Pasture’s regenerative land management practices are proving their ability to sequester as much carbon as is produced by the livestock raised on the farm.
Jim Wright (Lee County)
In Southwest Georgia’s Lee County, code enforcement officer Jim Wright has become known for his work to clean Kinchafoonee and Muckalee creeks and make them accessible for residents and visitors for boating and fishing.
The Georgia Water Coalition publishes this list not only to recognize these positive efforts on behalf of Georgia’s water but also as a call to action for our state’s leaders and citizens to review these success stories, borrow from them and emulate them.
The Georgia Water Coalition is a consortium of more than 285 conservation and environmental organizations, hunting and fishing groups, businesses, and faith-based organizations that have been working to protect Georgia’s water since 2002. Collectively, these organizations represent thousands of Georgians.