The Chattahoochee RiverWarden, Inc. has recently formed for the protection and preservation of the Chattahoochee River from West Point Lake to the Florida state line. A group of citizens began meeting in the fall of 2009 to investigate the interest in forming a middle river basin grass roots environmental river protection and advocacy organization. The outcome was the formation of the Chattahoochee RiverWarden which was incorporated in Georgia in July 2010 as a 501c3 non profit corporation.

An excellent group of citizens from Georgia and Alabama and from up and down the River have agreed to serve as the initial Board of Directors: President- Elizabeth Dreelin, PhD (GA); Vice-President- George Walker, III, PA (AL); Treasurer- Jason Blair, CPA (AL); Secretary- John Woodward (GA); Stephen Johnston (GA); Milton Jones (GA); Steve Sammons, PhD (AL); and Representative Debbie Buckner (GA). “We want our Board of Directors from Georgia and Alabama that are representative of the entire river basin from West Point to Florida,” said President Dreelin.

The Board of Directors hired Roger Martin as the RiverWarden Executive Director. Martin is a retired corporate executive who worked for three years for Apalachicola Riverkeeper as Development Director. He and his wife, Gay, relocated to Columbus, GA, in January of 2010.

“I am extremely excited to accept the challenges that come with the position,” said Martin. “The Chattahoochee River has been the life blood of the entire Chattahoochee Valley area for hundreds of years and needs a strong voice. With very tight fiscal budgets at the city, state, and federal levels, the need for grass roots environmental and advocacy groups has never been greater.”

Some of the program areas that the group plans to become involved with are the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) “water wars”, development of the Georgia State Water Plan and Regional Water Plans for the Middle Chattahoochee Region, Inter Basin Transfers, Monitoring NPDES Permits for compliance, and seeking to improve Best Management Practices (BMP) for storm water runoff. According to Martin, “non-point pollution (storm water runoff) is the greatest polluter of America’s waterways.”

Water is our most valuable natural resource; yet, it is neglected, wasted, and polluted every day in the Chattahoochee Valley.”Water affects every single American with the country using an average of 150 gallons per day for each individual. With water being a precious resource for wildlife, recreation, drinking water, waste water treatment, industry, agriculture, just to name a few, we all must be involved in its protection, conservation, and stewardship,” according to Dreelin.

The office of Chattahoochee RiverWarden is located at the Spencer Environmental Center in Columbus, GA. According to Martin, the organization has plans to open an office in the Dothan area within the next year.