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Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Georgia Environmental Protection Division announce Initiative for Watershed Excellence: Upper Altamaha Pilot Project

Release Date: 8/22/2005
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The University of Georgia to manage program involving stakeholders in 52 Georgia counties

(Atlanta, GA April 22, 2005) On Monday, August 22, 2005, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) announced the Initiative for Watershed Excellence: Upper Altamaha Pilot Project.  The Upper Altamaha watershed was chosen because it lies entirely within Georgia’s borders, thereby simplifying the scope of water resource issues that might be addressed in this pilot effort. The program is expected to become self-supporting within five years.

The Initiative will provide hands on, practical products and services to promote the growth of local stakeholder associations committed to improving or maintaining the natural and economic resources of their watersheds.  The goal is to apply research, instruction and student involvement in solving some of the major issues affecting watersheds and water quality in our communities.  If successful, the Initiative could lead to similar programs around the country. 

“Region 4 is proud to participate with our partners in this collaborative effort to launch and support this first-of-a-kind project,” said Jimmy Palmer, EPA Regional Administrator in Atlanta.  “We believe this initiative provides an efficient and effective approach to improving water quality, as well as the quality of life for our citizens.”

The University of Georgia will manage the pilot project that will include a consortium of students and personnel from Mercer University, Gainesville College Oconee Campus, and Georgia State College and University.  The project will help stakeholders in 52 counties in the Upper Altamaha watershed region to better manage their water resources.  The initiative is the first of its kind in the nation.

In early September, after it has been determined what issues have the highest priority, the River Basin Center will submit a detailed plan to the EPA and EPD for stakeholder assistance projects that will show the greatest impact.  The River Basin Center has already begun creating a database of watershed stakeholders and convened a team to prioritize their needs.   An initial survey of stakeholders that included local governments, advocacy groups and federal and state agencies revealed a strong interest by stakeholders in receiving accurate gauges of current and future land use, and in education programs to teach cost-effective water management techniques.  For further information regarding the initiative visit the website at  A map of the Upper Altamaha region is available at:

CONTACT:    Dawn Harris-Young, EPA Media Relations, 404-562-8421