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The Chattahoochee River’s newest Riverkeeper, Jason Ulseth, joins our hosts Bryan Nonni and Todd Schnick in studio on this week’s Around Atlanta edition of Atlanta Real Estate Forum Radio. Chattahoochee Riverkeeper is a non-profit environmental organization that is dedicated to protecting the Chattahoochee River and all of the water bodies that flow into it.

Water is vital to life and for many, access to clean and healthy water is not possible. Jason thinks that we are all becoming more conscious about the quality of and access we have to water. He adds, “It really takes a crisis to bring that awareness out. Right now, we’ve had plenty of rain, there is plenty of water at Lake Lanier and there is plenty of water in the Chattahoochee, so water scarcity really isn’t a hot topic now. But, think back to 2007 and running out of water was a real possibility. While we’re in a period of plentiful water, we’re out there trying to advocate and make sure that we’re not forgetting about the droughts that we had.”

Each day, more than four million people drink water from the Chattahoochee and during the summer months, the river hosts revelers looking for relief from the Georgia heat. With the recent news of water contamination in our local rivers and lakes, this issue is certainly on the mind of the public. Jason explains that storm water runoff is one of the biggest culprits to contamination of the water of the Chattahoochee. During periods of less rain, the water is typically cleaner, while heavy rains tend to drive storm water runoff and all of the debris and contaminants it contains toward the rivers and lakes in the area.

Because water does constantly change, part of the duty of the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper is to continually test the waters in order to make sure they are within the EPA’s recommended values for recreation and for the wildlife that live there. During periods of time when readings fall outside recommended values for recreation, Jason suggests exercising caution. He also adds that being in a kayak or canoe is different from swimming in the water, so consider the contact that you will have with the water before deciding what to do.

Everyday citizens can be involved in helping the Chattahoochee Riverkeepers test the waterways for safety. The Neighborhood Water Watch program works along with the “Adopt a Stream” program and volunteers across the basin to not only test,  but to also monitor waterways that don’t get the attention they deserve. Through grants that allow select laboratories to be open to the public, the program works with communities and people that are concerned about the health of the waterway to adopt local streams, lakes and other bodies of water and then collect samples to be tested. If a problem is detected, the Chattahoochee Rivereepers then get their hands wet and find out what the source of the problem is. Interested citizens that want to volunteer for the program can visit www.Chattahoochee.org and a representative will come hand off a complete kit that can be used to collect the sample.

There are also educational programs that the Chattahoochee Riverkeepers execute in order to inform the public about water issues including safety and conservation. The Floating Classroom is one program that takes 4,500 to 5,000 students and teachers to Lake Lanier each year to teach them water quality basics and shows them how the water of the river reaches their kitchen tap. The program is expanding and will soon have a second boat that will be launched out of West Point Lake. During the last 15 years, the program has hosted more than 40,000 children.

The Chattahoochee Riverkeeper organization is always looking for new members and invites everyone to apply. To do so, visit www.Chattahoochee.org, pay the small membership fee and start saving our waterways!


The “Around Atlanta” segment is designed to showcase the best of metro Atlanta – the communities, attractions and special events that make this city great. To submit your event, community or attraction to the Around Atlanta edition of Atlanta Real Estate Forum Radio, contact 770-383-3360.

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