Chattahoochee Riverkeeper (CRK) founder J. Rutherford Seydell Wednesday spoke to the LaGrange Rotary Club about the oragnizartion’s efforts to preserve water quality of the Chattahooochee River.
Seydel is a partner in the Atlanta law firm of Davis, Pickren, Seydel and Sneed, and holds positions on various environmental, civic and academia boards. He is also part owner of NHL franchise Atlanta Thrashers and NBA franchise Atlanta Hawks.
During the meeting, Seydel briefly spoke about the history of the organization and then concentrated on what measures the organization is taking today to help ensure that the supply of clean water will continue to be available to Georgia residents. CRK’s Regional Outreach Manager Jill Sistino was also present at the meeting.
Seydel said that he and his family has had ties to the LaGrange area for many years. The family had been in the textile business for sometime. Seydel then sighted an overview of what CRK has been working on recently in this area.
Seydel gave four important highlights, or accomplishments, of the organization:
• Along with volunteers and support from KIA Motors, started a water monitoring project on Long Cane Creek.
• Initiated a water education program at Troup County Commissioner Chair Ricky Wolfe’s organic farm.
• Worked with stakeholders in tri-state water allocation discussions to help keep West Point Lake as full as possible whileprotecting river health.
• Improving West Point Lake’s water quality by advocating stronger nutrient standards.
“Without CRK, the river would not be as clean as it is today. Billions of gallons of raw sewage no longer flow into the river, thanks to our (1995) lawsuit and the leadership of Mayors Shirley Franklin and now Kasim Reed. The role of the LaGrange Troup County Chamber was critical in that litigation,” Seydel said.
With the recent drought conditions, Seydel emphasized that the CRK is concerned not only with the quality of the river’s water but also with its quantity.
“The water belongs to all communities up and down the river system - to share equitably,” Seydel said.
Seydel also told of the role of conservation in the protection and preservation of clean water. With Georgia Power being the largest consumer of fresh water, energy and water conservation must be the focal point.
“Mayor Reed, the City of Atlanta and various other public and private sector leaders have committed to a 20 percent reduction in building water and energy consumption as part of the Better Building Challenge, referred to as the ‘BBC’,” Seydel said.
“Buildings are one of the largest consumers of energy and water. As a result, the water and energy reductions achieved by the Atlanta BBC will have a dramatic impact not only on Atlanta, but on the entire region, particularly those downstream,” Seydel said.
Seydel stated that LaGrange could also conserve water and energy by following examples of the Atlanta BBC or by implementing a comprehensive energy upgrade program such as Hall County is undertaking.
“Regardless of the direction LaGrange opts to take, it has a significant opportunity to step forward on a national stage, and can leverage the experience of its Georgia neighbors to the north in doing so,” Seydel said.
Currently the CRK is nearing the end of an aggressive membership drive. They are very close to reaching their goal that will entitle them to additional funds from various grants.
“Membership in the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper gives the community a louder voice as we continue to push forward with water protection. Community members may join Chattahoochee Riverkeeper by either volunteering or by offering a small donation,” Sistino said.
For general or membership information on Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, please go to the organization’s website at chattahoochee.org or contact Jill Sistino directly by email at email@example.com.