What's lurking in the waters of the Chattahoochee River? - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

What's lurking in the waters of the Chattahoochee River?

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

One of Georgia's top water protection groups has named its "Dirty Dozen" for this year, in terms of issues with water quality.  The portion of the Chattahoochee River in Atlanta was fourth on the list.

For some in our area, it has a river reputation for being dirty, but in reality, how safe is the Hooch in Columbus?

It is a lazy evening for these fishermen out on the Chattahoochee River in Columbus.  Jerri Rennie is hoping to reel in a big catch.

"It just depends on the size.  If it's very small I let it go.  But, if it's big enough to go into the pan, it goes."

She comes out to the Chattahoochee for fishing as much as she can.  The avid fisher is joined by others who take home fish in coolers and even suitcases, but Roger Martin, the Chattahoochee RiverWarden, says you need to regulate just how much you eat from the river and creeks

"The state recommends one meal per month of a large mouth bass over 16 inches in this section of the river, and it varies all down the river and in the creeks also."

Martin explains those recommendations also vary in species and size.  The suggestions exist because of the levels of mercury and PCBs, both harmful chemicals, absorbed from the air, into the water, and eventually into the skin of fish.

Gary Kennedy went out on the river Tuesday for some afternoon relaxing.  He says never eats anything he catches.

"It's eating at your own risk.  That's the way it is.  The warnings are out there.  But people have to eat too," said Kennedy.

With crews working on the Whitewater project and other kinds of recreation on the river, is it safe to be in the water?

"The river is improving every day.  If that river was dirty, the department of health and the EPD would have a no swim advisory up," said Martin.

The RiverWarden explains it is almost impossible to tell what chemicals are in the river because it changes constantly with the flow downstream.

However, he says the source for what is in the river and surrounding creeks can be found in your front yard.

"It's not all just waste water treatment plants.  It's storm water run-off.  It's our pet's poop when they go to the bathroom.  It affects our water quality.  The nutrients that we put on our vegetables in our gardens affect our water quality."

Below is a link explaining what fish and how many servings are safe to eat from your area of the Chattahoochee River.

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