Upper Chattahoochee River Case Study

The Southeast Basin (Hydrologic Region 3), covering a drainage area of 278,523 square miles, includes the Chattahoochee-Flint-Apalachicola River, which has a length of 524 miles and a drainage area of 19,600 square miles (Iseri and Langbein, 1974). On the basis of a mean annual discharge (1941-1970) of 24,700 cfs, the Chat-tahoochee-Flint-Apalachicola River ranks twenty-third of the large rivers of the United States (Iseri and Langbein, 1974). Figure 10-1 highlights the location of the Upper Chattahoochee River case study watersheds (catalog units), and the city of Atlanta, Georgia, identified in this river basin as one of the urban-industrial waterways affected by severe water pollution problems during the 1950s and 1960s (see Table 4-2). In this chapter, information is presented to characterize long-term trends in population, municipal wastewater infrastructure and effluent loading of pollutants, ambient water quality, environmental resources, and uses of the Upper Chattahoochee River. Data sources include USEPA's national water quality database (STORET), published technical literature, and unpublished technical reports ("grey" literature) obtained from local agency sources.

The Chattahoochee River Basin constitutes almost 40 percent of the Chatta-hoochee-Flint-Apalachicola River Basin (Figure 10-2), which discharges into the Gulf of Mexico. The Chattahoochee River flows from northeast Georgia through metropolitan Atlanta to West Point Dam. From there, the river forms the GeorgiaAlabama border and, for a short distance, the Georgia-Florida border. Near the southern border of Georgia, the Flint River joins the Chattahoochee River to form the Apalachicola River. Major urban centers in the Upper Chattahoochee River Basin include Atlanta, Gainesville, Marietta, Cornelia, and Alpharetta, Georgia. The Atlanta region represents only 3.6 percent of Georgia's total land area, but contains one-third of the state's population (ARC, 1984). The large volume of wastewater discharged in the Atlanta area has a far-reaching effect on water quality conditions in receiving waters. The Upper Chattahoochee River is by far the largest river in the Atlanta region. Other streams in the region include Sweetwater Creek, South River, Flint River, Yellow River, Peachtree Creek, and Line Creek.

The Chattahoochee River is Atlanta's major water supply source and receptacle for wastewater disposal. The Upper Chattahoochee River Basin provides numerous recreational areas and fish and wildlife habitats. Lake Sidney Lanier, for example, is

a nationally popular water resort area. The area from Buford Dam to Peachtree Creek has been under intensive development pressures that threaten the water quality of the Chattahoochee River.

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