River Valley Regional Commission’s geographic namesake describes the watershed surrounding parts of the Flint and Chattahoochee river basins that flow through the region – natural resources that must be cared for and maintained to ensure a healthy regional ecosystem. These river systems are used to meet many needs, including power generation, agriculture, aquaculture, drinking water, navigation, and recreation.
Through several programs, RVRC’s environmental planning department works to ensure that these assets and resources remain healthy and safeguarded.
Under Section 319(h) of the Clean Water Act, the Environmental Protection Division provides funds for projects that work to reduce pollution in waterways. These funds may be used to conduct assessments, develop Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) and Watershed Management Plans, or implement management practices. A TMDL is a calculation of the maximum amount of a pollutant that a waterbody can receive and still safely meet water quality standards.
Watershed Management Plans
The RVRC has worked closely with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to prepare Watershed Management Plans for several impaired stream segments within the region. These plans enable our local governments to take appropriate actions to mitigate pollution levels identified in the 305(b)/303(d) List of Waters, a water quality report submitted by the state to the Environmental Protection Agency every two years. Impairments within the RVRC region include sediment, fecal coliform, E.coli, dissolved oxygen, pH, algae, Mercury, Thalium, Antimony, and PCBs.
Staff is currently working on implementing a Watershed Management Plan for the Pataula Creek Watershed located in Clay, Quitman, Randolph, and Stewart Counties. This project is focused on reducing fecal coliform and sediment loads within impaired stream segments throughout the watershed. Project activities will include water quality monitoring, installation of dirt road and agricultural BMPs, and educational outreach.
For more information, please contact Laura Schneider at 706-256-2910.
Healthy Watershed Initiative
The Environmental Protection Division also provides funds for projects which aim to protect healthy waters through the Healthy Watershed Initiative (HWI). This program encourages a holistic approach to watershed protection by placing emphasis on maintaining the quality of healthy waters and preventing water quality impairments from developing. Key components include identifying healthy watersheds, implementing protection plans, and providing information to educate the public about the benefits of their preservation.
EPA’s Brownfields Program empowers states, tribes, communities, and other stakeholders to work together to prevent, assess, safely clean up, and sustainably reuse brownfields. A brownfield site is a property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. Examples of potential brownfield sites may include, but are not limited to former gas stations, buildings with asbestos or lead-based paint, former dry cleaners, former bulk petroleum facilities, former wood treatment facilities, former pesticide/herbicide handling areas and former landfills.
EPA provides financial assistance to eligible applicants through five competitive grant programs: Multipurpose Grants, Assessment Grants, Revolving Loan Fund Grants, Cleanup Grants, and Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training Grants. Additionally, funding support is provided to state and tribal response programs through a separate mechanism. It is estimated that there are more than 450,000 brownfields in the U.S. Cleaning up and reinvesting in these properties increases local tax bases, facilitates job growth, utilizes existing infrastructure, takes development pressures off of undeveloped, open land, and both improves and protects the environment.
In 2019, the River Valley Regional Commission received funding for a Brownfields Assessment Coalition Grant through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. These funds are being used to inventory, characterize and assess the presence of environmental liabilities at eligible brownfield sites, develop site-specific cleanup plans, and conduct community engagement. Input from the local community is an essential part of this process and will help to determine which sites may be best suited for assessment, and identify community needs for potential site reuse or redevelopment. This will ensure that available funds are directed towards properties which are of significance to the local communities and that redevelopment efforts are reflective of the needs of the community. Assessment activities are focused on priority sites in the Cities of Americus, Cordele, and Vienna, and in small rural farming towns in the greater River Valley region. Coalition partners are the Crisp-Cordele Industrial Development Authority, the Macon County Development Authority, the Sumter County Development Authority, and the City of Vienna.
To recommend a site for assessment, please contact Laura Schneider at 706-256-2910.
Working with Local Governments
It is our goal to promote ideas which establish new and innovative ways to mitigate pollution levels in our waterways. One of the first steps in the process is to identify sources of pollution by communicating with local governments, businesses, stakeholders, and the general community of the watershed. The next step is to decide what types of Best Management Practices (BMPs) can be implemented to lessen the impairment. There are countless methods of BMPs that can be established and practices may be implemented to address a variety of nonpoint sources.
Examples may include the use of a silt fence at a construction site to reduce the amount of sediment entering nearby waterways or placing “No Dumping” signs near stream segments to discourage illicit pollution. BMP placement is then determined by conducting strategic watershed monitoring to identify locations where BMP installation will have the most beneficial impact on water quality.
Solid Waste Management Planning
Waste management is the collection, transport, processing, recycling or disposal, and monitoring of waste materials. The term usually relates to materials produced by human activity and is generally undertaken to reduce their effect on health, the environment, and aesthetics. Waste management includes processes undertaken to recover resources from the solid, liquid, gaseous or radioactive substances with different methods and fields of expertise for each.
Waste management practices differ for urban and rural areas, and for residential and industrial producers. Management for non-hazardous residential, commercial, and institutional waste is usually the responsibility of local government authorities, while management for hazardous commercial and industrial waste is usually the responsibility of the generator. Local governments throughout the River Valley Region are most concerned with the management of solid waste.
For more information, contact Rick Morris or Gerald Mixon at 877-819-6348.
We encourage the public to take action to better their communities by improving their watersheds. If you have any questions or concerns about your local watershed, please do not hesitate to contact Laura Schneider, Environmental Planner, at 706-256-2910.