Chattahoochee Riverkeeper (formerly Upper Chattachoochee Riverkeeper) was established in 1994 by a group of Atlanta environmentalists, scientists, and community activists to protect the Chattahoochee River basin. The group’s primary focus begins at the river’s headwaters in the Chattahoochee National Forest in the north Georgia mountains and continues downstream through the city of Atlanta to West Point Lake in Heard County, encompassing more than 200 miles of the Chattahoochee River.
The mission of the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper is to advocate and secure protection and stewardship of the Chattahoochee River and its tributaries and watershed in order to restore and conserve their ecological health for the people, fish, and wildlife that depend on the river system. Riverkeeper actively uses advocacy, education, research, communication, cooperation, monitoring, and legal actions to protect and preserve the Chattahoochee and its watershed.
The Chattahoochee River has been named one of the most endangered rivers in the United States due to poor water quality, which has resulted from sprawling development and growth. With a team of experts from the fields of ecology, science, law, and engineering, Riverkeeper takes strategic and aggressive actions to protect the Chattahoochee River, which is the primary drinking source for about 4 million Georgians, Alabamians, and Floridians. The organization uses its resources to determine the health of the waters through monitoring, to secure compliance with clean water permits, to promote protection of streamside buffers, to advocate environmentally sound planning and zoning, to strengthen state and federal water-quality programs, and to increase community involvement through public-awareness campaigns.
Riverkeeper also promotes river stewardship through outreach programs. These programs include:
- A stream-monitoring network promoting the Georgia Adopt-A-Stream Program within the Chattahoochee River watershed
- Educational school programs for K-12 students focusing on water quality and “hands-on” protection of the river basin
- A “floating classroom” created at the Lake Lanier Aquatic Learning Center, where students board the Chota Princess, a forty-four-person pontoon boat, and conduct water-quality tests and learn about the lake environment
- Hosting canoe and hiking river adventures for members to learn about the many faces of the Chattahoochee.