Chattahoochee Riverkeeper

Dissolved Oxygen Monitoring


In 2008, CRK began monitoring for dissolved oxygen, a key indicator of a river's health, at a dozen locations in the river downstream of Atlanta due to our growing concern over low water levels possibly impacting the river's ecosystem and water quality.

Since the 1970s, the state of Georgia has had a rule requiring that the flow of water in the Chattahoochee above the confluence with Peachtree Creek in Atlanta be at least 485 million gallons per day, or 750 cubic feet per second (cfs). This volume was determined necessary to help assimilate (dilute) the treated wastewater and industrial process water discharged into the river daily by metro municipalities, including the city of Atlanta, Cobb County, and others. In fact, all of the discharge permits issued by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) to these various utilities contain pollutant limits that assume this flow will be maintained.

On several occasions in 2008 and 2009, the state asked the Corps of Engineers to reduce its releases from Lake Lanier at Buford Dam to achieve a flow at Peachtree Creek of only 650 cfs, or 65 million gallons per day less than the decades-old state requirement — the goal being to keep more water in the lake.

This reduction in flow could be harmful to the river's health downstream of Atlanta, and the health of the communities and wildlife dependent upon it; therefore, CRK initiated a dissolved oxygen monitoring program. Currently, CRK is the only organization or agency conducting routine monitoring in multiple locations on this stretch of the river downstream of Atlanta. We will continue to monitor at least every two weeks throughout the warm summer months when pollution problems from low-flow conditions are more likely to occur.

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