Guerras del Agua


Northwest Georgia has been at war for more than 20 years.  The Etowah and Oostanaula Rivers merge in Rome, GA. to form the Coosa River.  Lake Allatoona, the upstream impoundment of the Etowah, has turned into an ad hoc reservoir for an ever-expanding Metro Atlanta.  Unfortunately for Rome and other downstream communities, Atlanta sees this as only a skirmish.  Poorly regulated growth patterns, with little attention to the limits of water resources, has put the metro area in a bind.

Atlanta has bigger problems.  Alabama and Florida have been jousting with Georgia (er, Atlanta) for an equitable share of a finite resource.  We’ve got the federal government, the Corps of Engineers, counties, cities, businesses, utilities and of all things, folks who care about water quality and quality of life thrown together.  The severe drought of the past few years has merely amplified the issue.

While all of this going on there is still time to re-introduce Lake Sturgeon back into the Coosa River basin.  Bi-lingual signage along the Oostanula informs and instructs about this project with a declaration of love.

2.8 Project

Flying above Rome, Ga., the Coosa River winds toward Alabama.  By the time the Etowah and Oostanula Rivers have mixed they have passed through numerous users and some abusers.  The Coosa has many more demands placed upon it  before reaching Mobile Bay.

Steve Hulsey, Floyd Co. Water Department Director, looks out at the Oostanula River before the beginning of the Northwest Georgia Regional Water Resources Partnership meeting. City and county agencies, as stakeholders in the water quality assessment, made time to hear the preliminary findings about the watershed.


Sheets containing preliminary data on stream sampling are passed out before the Northwest Georgia Regional Water Resources Partnership meeting.  A lot of information that needs to be explained.



The 15 county Northwest Georgia Regional Water Resources Partnership, is working on an 18 month initial assessment of water quality in the region.  At a meeting in Rome, GA, this past Thursday, the findings were revealed at a public meeting.  Interest from businessmen to farmers is evident in the room.   The ultimate goal of this partnership, according to Dr. Jerry Jennings, board chairman, is to analyze the current state of water quality, identify the problems and to set up a plan to protect the watersheds.

Joe Cook, Executive Director and Riverkeeper of the Coosa River Basin Initiative, splits his time in Rome and Atlanta during the Georgia State Legislative sessions.  Meager funding and an abundance of issues makes the work nothing less than a labor of love.

FH000010The Brushy Branch boat launch is the last place to put-in on the Coosa River in Georgia before entering Alabama and Weiss Lake.  The water current slows as it reaches the impoundment.   This is the second stop for the Coosa Basin watershed on it’s way to Mobile Bay.  The waterway  here is the domain of fishermen and pleasure boaters.

FH000018The Alabama Queen is an homage to the riverboat days on the Coosa River.  Once a hotel it is now a condo project in Centre, Al.

FH000014Weiss Lake is just there.  There is no thoughts of the drought now.  The lake is high and everyone has forgotten about what’s going on down stream.  The fishermen were bitchin’ about the high water.  Go figure.  We’ve had three years of drought.  I guess it will take a while for the users to realize that this is nothing more than the good times. I just hope the next drought is not the deal breaker.

FH000020Lot’s of PWC, bass boats and pontoon boat riders.  This water has not been touched by any big cities except Atlanta.  As long as the water is flowing, they don’t care.  Wait ’til Lake Altoona has another drainoff  for the insatisable growth north of the capital.  The water drawn from Alltoona to satify northern growth of city is beinging  released into the Chattahoochee watershed.  Interbasin transfer. I’s it possible for the local users to finally get a handle on what is being taken from them?  If growth continues at it’s present rate, and this is during a down economy, the jet skiiers and fishermen will need to watch out for the snags.  Just imagine what they are thinking in Mobile.

FH000008Paddle Georgia pulls into Rome on June 26, 2009.  A one-week excursion from Ellijay, GA.  More than 300 participated in the float.  Quite a different animal from the trip south of Rome.  The Coosawatte and Oostanaula Rivers meet the Etowah River in Rome to form the Coosa River.

464827-R1-05-5Power lines from Plant Hammond in Coosa, GA. cross the Coosa River west of Rome.  The coal-fired plant has been a mainstay of Georgia Power Co.  It produces 840 megawatts per hour and draws 590 millon gallons of Coosa River water per day (

464827-R1-08-8New scrubbers went on-line in 2008.  Built in the 50’s it somehow has continued to generate power and adapt to changing EPA regulations. For more information on the new scrubbers see

464827-R1-07-7The new scrubber has been a great improvement to air quality in Northwest Georgia.    Ash ponds are positioned next to the river and have the potential create unintended consequences.  It takes 100’s of tons of Kentucky coal to make energy here.

690899-R1-18-18AThe confluence of the Etowah, above, and the Oostanaula Rivers is at Rome, Ga.  Just around the bend is the start of the Coosa River.

690899-R1-19-19AThis old railroad bridge crosses the Etowah near downtown Rome, GA.  It is now part of the bicycle trail system.

690899-R1-12-12AThe South Rome Bridge is one of 6 that connect the city.  Two of the above style remain vital to local transportation.

690899-R1-06-6AThe newest addition to Rome, GA.’s river crossings is a pedestrian bridge into the city center.

POM112807w--000013Carters Lake. A jump into the water is more refreshing than many of the impoundments in Georgia.  Legend has it that the story of Deliverance by James Dickey is based on the Coosawattee River before the dam.  The lake at it’s deepest point  is almost 500 feet.  That would have been quite a piece of river.  The Coosawattee becomes the Oostanaula then merges with the Etowah River to become the Coosa River in Rome, Ga.

POM112807w--000018The Coosawattee River flows into Carters Lake.  On the way to finding the mouth of the Coosawattee if you are not working then just relax and read a book.


FH000014The Coosa River Basin Initiative held their annual fund-raiser in a park across from the confluence of the Oostanaula and Etowah rivers on Aug 22, 2009.

FH000017Some socializing on the Coosa Riverbank at the Bio-diversity Bash.

FH000020Watching the Ducky Derby from Heritage Park.  The Bio-diversity Bash is the riverkeeper’s major fund-raising event.

FH000008Eric Lindburg, Environmental Services Director for Rome and Floyd Co. Ga. collects a water sample on Silver Creek near it’s confluence with the Etowah River.

FH000012Lindburg training Coosa Valley Regional Development Center personnel on the proper procedure of stream sampling.

FH000016A stream sampling kit and rubber boots.

FH000021Lindburg talks about proper stream temp procedures with CVRDC personnel.

FH000001Water samples are cultured for indications of e coli and fecal coliform.  Lindburg is then able to begin tracing sources of the polution.

FH000008A joint project between the city of Rome, GA and Floyd County, The Town Green. was dedicated in August.  It celebrates the connections Rome and Floyd Co. have with the rivers.  The wading fountain is the center piece of the new community green space.  It is a major part of the river corridor master plan that includes walking and biking trails.

FH000009Plant Bowen is one of the largest coal-fired power generating facilities in Georgia.  Situated along the Etowah River, upstream of Rome, Ga.  An October 12, 2009 article in the New York Times revealed that modern scrubber technology may in fact be shifting pollution from the air to the waterways.

FH000013Lake Allatoona impounds the Etowah River 25 miles upstream of Rome, GA.  Northern municipalities in Metro Atlanta have been drawing water from Allatoona and the withdrawals are expected to increase in the future.  This may have profound effects on communities downstream.  A federal court ruling in July 2009 affecting Lake Lanier on the Chattahoochee River may be appplied to Lake Allatoona.  The ruling would curtail withdrawals from these lakes and force Atlanta to conserve their water rather than expand it.

Darrell waits for a tow.  It seems that Georgia wants to talk with Alabama and Florida in private .  How can the future of this watershed be determined behind closed doors?  Darrell might as well be waiting for a decision from Atlanta instead of  a tow.  Maybe he’ll get lucky and take Gov. Perdue out into Apalachicola Bay and explain what is at stake.

This seems to be an appropriate time to illustrate the beauty of the Coosa River Basin.  American Rivers included the Coosa River in the 2010 Endangered Rivers .  The winter scene above is the Etowah River as it nears the headwaters of the Coosa.

The confluence of the Conasauga and Jacks River.

Conasauga River snorkling near the confluence of the the Jacks and Conasauga.  The US Forest Service encourages learning about the watershed by offering snorkling with fisheries biologists.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s