During an online awards ceremony, the Georgia Water Coalition recognized 13 individuals, companies, and nonprofits whose efforts have led to cleaner rivers, stronger communities, and a more sustainable future.

“The entities featured in this report each, in their own way, help 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.”

More than 100 people attended the ceremony via video conference on Tuesday.

Recognized persons during the ceremony include:

Live Thrive Atlanta

In the state capital, the Live Thrive Atlanta Hard-to-Recycle Center (CHaRM) 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.

In Dublin, YKK AP, manufacturer of aluminum windows, doors and architectural facades, recycles and uses 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 something as simple as LED lighting across the community.

Yonah Mountain Vineyards

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

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

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.

Golden Triangle Resource Conservation and Development Council

In southwest Georgia, the Council for the Conservation and Development of Resources of the Golden Triangle, along with many other initiatives, is training 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 council produces a series of educational videos promoting tourism along the Flint River.

Okefenokee Swamp Park

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

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


This local action in particular is flying to SouthWings, a nonprofit organization based in Asheville, North Carolina 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 our water, from the disposal of coal ash to oil spills along the coast.

Fall-Line Alliance for Clean Energy

The Fall-Line Alliance for Clean Energy celebrated the end of decades of efforts to prevent the construction of a coal-fired power plant 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.

Sen. William Ligon

In the state parliament, 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.

Senator Freddie Powell Sims

Across the aisle, Senator Freddie Powell Sims (D-Dawson) used her leverage as the only Democratic Senator representing a predominantly rural district to win the vote of the entire Senate Democratic caucus in the heated battle over HB 545, which would have the harmed rural populations by inviting industrial-scale animal feed factories to rural communities.

Georgia Farmers

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