ATLANTA (June 6, 2011) — In a victory for clean water in the Chattahoochee River, Atlanta’s most vital natural resource, Smith, Gambrell & Russell received a favorable ruling June 1 for Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper (UCR) in the appeal of a permit issued last year to Forsyth County by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD). The permit allowed the county to discharge six million gallons of treated wastewater daily into the Chattahoochee River from its Fowler/Shakerag Wastewater Reclamation Facility.
The precedent-setting decision, handed down by Judge Kristin Miller of the Office of State Administrative Hearings, found that the permitted discharge would result in lower water quality for the Chattahoochee River. The judge concluded that since Forsyth County can treat its wastewater and discharge significantly less pollution at minimal additional cost, the lowering of water quality is not necessary. Federal and state law prohibit lowering water quality unless necessary for important social or economic development in an area.
SGR environmental attorneys Andy Thompson and Steve O’Day represented UCR. The firm is a pioneer in environmental law, having started its practice in 1970.
“This is clearly a victory for enforcement of the Clean Water Act, and in line with current efforts nationally by U.S. EPA to focus on in-stream water quality, and to prevent reductions in water quality through enforcement of antidegradation rules,” said Andy Thompson. “We are very pleased with Judge Miller’s thorough, well-reasoned and detailed decision, and the positive results it will bring to UCR and those who enjoy the river and its downstream reservoirs.”
Established in 1994, Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper (UCR) is an environmental advocacy organization with over 5,000 members dedicated solely to protecting and restoring the Chattahoochee River, its lakes and tributaries, for the people, fish and wildlife that depend upon it. The Chattahoochee River is the primary drinking water source for 3.5 million people.