Savannah River Clean Water Fund, Georgia
Savannah River © John Engle, Green Eyes Aero LLC
Befitting its history as one of the original colonial trade routes, the Savannah River supports a wide variety of human and natural values, and serves as a critical water resource to the states of Georgia and South Carolina alike.
The largely rural nature of the Savannah River Watershed is threatened by urban development and contaminants. This watershed may be ripe for a watershed protection program, given interest expressed by the utilities in Savannah, Georgia, and Beaufort/Jasper, South Carolina.The Savannah River Clean Water Fund (SRCWF) covers the lower Savannah sub-basin, a 2.8M acre area encompassing five substantial municipalities serving 550,000 residents, and many commercial and industrial users. The states of South Carolina and Georgia are both participating.
Preserving Water Quality in the Savannah River
This document describes the water quality maintenance services performed by forests and well-managed agricultural lands. Peer-reviewed studies demonstrating these services are described, with links to many additional supporting resources. These water quality principles are then applied to the 2.79M-acre Lower Savannah River sub-basin below Thurmond Dam at Clarks Hill, South Carolina. GIS analysis and a conservation priority model based in these principles were applied to the lower Savannah River sub-basin to create a vision for how land protection in the sub-basin can maintain these services indefinitely.
TNC organized utilities, agencies, other NGO’s, and funders to build the SRCWF. TNC also brought the fundamental science of watersheds and prioritization to the group, and was seen as a trusted arbiter. A previous attempt to start a fund failed quickly as utilities and partners did not believe in the impartiality of hired consultants that were used to provide the science. Once science credibility was gained, allies came forward with significant relationships that were essential to putting the SRCWF in front of utility decision-makers