ATHENS – Dawson State Senator Freddie Powell Sims was again selected from among the 13 individuals, corporations, and nonprofits included in the Georgia Water Coalition’s Clean 13 report, published October.

In a coalition press release, Sims, D-Dawson, was commended for “using her leverage as the only Democratic Senator representing a predominantly rural district to cast votes for the full Senate Democratic caucus in the heated battle for HB 545 received, a measure that would have harmed rural populations by inviting industrial-scale animal feeders to rural communities. “

The Georgia Water Coalition said the Clean 13 report highlighted individuals, businesses, industries, nonprofits and government agencies “whose extraordinary efforts have resulted in cleaner rivers, stronger communities and a more sustainable future for Georgians.”

“The entities featured in this report each in their own way are helping other citizens, businesses and local governments understand the importance of protecting Georgia’s water resources,” Jesse Demonbreun-Chapman, executive director of the Rome-based Coosa River Basin Initiative told a press release. “While many are taking action that will directly benefit certain bodies of water, all of them are either helping us experience our rivers and natural areas, or helping others understand actions they can take to protect our state’s waters.”

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the award ceremony was not held in person, but by video conference. More than 100 participants took part in the program.

The Golden Triangle Resource, Conservation and Development Council in Southwest Georgia was another award winner.

“We are very humble and honored and proud to be selected as the Clean 13 Water Hero for Georgia,” said Executive Director Rhonda Gordon. “Ultimately, we know we made a difference and it’s so exciting to be among all of these great water heroes.”

The Golden Triangle Council, among many other initiatives, educates local road crews on best practices for maintaining the area’s many dirt roads – a measure that keeps creeks debris and protects endangered aquatic wildlife. The local council produces a series of educational videos promoting tourism along the Flint River.

The Fallline Alliance for Clean Energy was represented at the award ceremony by Organization President Larry Warthen and Associate Lyle Lansdell.

“I’m proud of my organization in preventing the coal-fired power plant from coming to Washington County and 13 to 16 million gallons of water from leaking out of our aquifer a day,” said Warthen.

Others recognized during the ceremony were:

Live Thrive Atlanta (Fulton County) – In the state’s capital, Live Thrive Atlanta’s hard-to-recycle materials center provides residents with a place to recycle everything from old paint to obsolete electronics. Since 2015, CHaRM has diverted more than 50 million pounds of hazardous chemicals and waste from landfill sites. CHaRM has helped Atlanteans understand that recycling benefits urban streams and our rivers.

YKK AP America Inc. (County Dublin-Laurens) – YKK AP, manufacturer of aluminum windows, doors and architectural facades, recycles and uses it on an industrial scale. While YKK AP recycles all aluminum waste on site, it also recovers by-products from the manufacturing process that are reused in-house or sold off-site for other purposes. The energy efficiency measures in the 1.2 million square meter facility are an example of the energy savings that can be achieved by introducing such simple things as LED lighting across the community.

Yonah Mountain Vineyards, Cleveland-White – In northern Georgia, Yonah Mountain Vineyards, one of the growing wineries in Georgia, is also setting an example of clean energy with the installation of a 360-panel solar array in 2019 that will power much of the vineyard’s operations. The Solar Sommoliers have also installed a Tesla Destination charging station with 14 stations for electric cars.

Emory University (Decatur-DeKalb County) – At Emory University, one of the country’s leading research universities, the WaterHub, a first of its kind in the United States, is showing students – and even international executives – the benefits of small on-site water treatment plants. The WaterHub, which looks like a large greenhouse on campus, treats up to 400,000 gallons of wastewater daily and covers 40 percent of the campus’ daily water needs.

Parsley Catering (Marietta-Cobb County) – In Marietta, Parsley’s Catering, a 40 year old family business, has taken green initiatives and encouraged others in the food service sector to follow suit. Parsley’s, one of the few Green Restaurant Association certified food providers in the Atlanta area, has chosen solar and water efficient plumbing that has been switched to compostable and biodegradable plates and utensils and connected to local organic farms to provide meat and produce.

Okefenokee Swamp Park (Waycross-Ware County) – The private, nonprofit, 74-year-old Okefenokee Swamp Park is partnering with other local swamp attractions in a touristic marketing campaign aimed at getting more people into the swamp and making more of them swamp enthusiasts. The effort couldn’t be any more timely as the swamp is now facing new outside threats and needs all the defenders it can get.

Chattahoochee RiverLands (Metro Atlanta) – The Chattahoochee RiverLands project aims to make the Chattahoochee more accessible to communities across Metro Atlanta. The proposed 120-mile multimodal path running from Buford Dam in Gwinnett County to Chattahoochee Bend State Park in Coweta County, as well as several new boat docks and connecting paths, are designed to bring citizens to the area’s “boardwalk” and attract a new generation of river stewards .

SouthWings (based in Asheville, NC, with volunteer pilots across Georgia) – This on-site action in particular flies SouthWings, an Asheville-based nonprofit that offers free flights to environmental organizations in Georgia. In 2019, SouthWings volunteer pilots flew 29 missions for a total flight time of 87 hours. The flights served to educate decision makers and the public about issues affecting the water, from the disposal of coal ash to oil spills along the coast.

Fall Line Alliance for Clean Energy (Sandersville-Washington County) – The Fall-Line Clean Energy Alliance celebrated the end of decades of efforts to prevent the construction of a coal-fired power station near Sandersville. Earlier this year, state regulators refused to renew permits for the project. The Washington power plant was the only coal-fired power plant currently under consideration in the United States. Since 2010, more than 170 planned coal-fired power plants across the country have been shut down.

Senator William Ligon (White Oak-Camden County) – In the state assembly, Senator William Ligon, R-White Oak, introduced and secured the passage of SB 123, a measure that closes a loophole in Georgian regulations on the disposal of coal ash. The new law will prevent non-state coal ash producers from dumping their waste in landfills in Georgia. The retired senator also leaves a legacy of protecting the Georgia Coast and coastal rivers.

Georgia Farmers – Getting Sims to oppose the bill was a group of farmers, including many from their district. While agribusiness lobbyists are widespread in the Sims district of southwest Georgia, their approval of HB 545 was no match for these civic activists, most of whom were traditionally politically right-wing farmers. They formed an unlikely coalition with Senate Democrats and played a major role in the defeat of HB 545.

The Georgia Water Coalition is a consortium of more than 275 conservation and environmental organizations, hunting and fishing groups, farms, businesses, neighborhood associations and religious organizations that have been committed to protecting Georgian water since 2002. Together these organizations represent thousands of Georgian organizations.

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