Savannah Riverkeeper working to clean up Savannah River - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Savannah Riverkeeper working to clean up Savannah River

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The Savannah River ranks third in the country for the highest amount of toxic discharge, according to a new report released by the Environmental Georgia Research and Policy Center.  

The Savannah Riverkeeper is working to reduce the toxins being dumped into the river by industrial facilities by pushing a new rule.

According to the study, titled Wasting our Water, industries have dumped more than five million pounds of toxic pollution into the river, mostly in the 200 mile stretch between Augusta and Savannah.

The Environmental Protection Agency is considering a new rule to restore the Clean Water Act and close some loopholes that have left the nation's waterways at risk. According to the Savannah Riverkeeper, one of the big reasons for the buildup of pollution is most of the companies are working on permits that expired up to eight years ago and were automatically extended.

"When they are allowed to discharge, they can do a better job, but there is no doubt, but when they are allowed to discharge, they are differing that cost downstream to those of us who are drinking it or the next company," said Tonya Bontatibus with the Savannah Riverkeeper.

"It is a combination of not really fulfilling the vision of the Clean Water Act, which was to slowly ratchet down the amount of pollution that polluters were dumping in rivers, and instead kinda looking the other way and letting them renew their permits without reviewing them," said Jenette Gayer with Environmental Georgia.

Now they are working toward decreasing the toxic load for the health of the river and the 1.4 million people that rely on her for their drinking water. The public comment period on the Clean Water Act is still open.

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