Coahulla Creek Watershed
Although Clean Water Act grants have been implemented by Limestone Valley in the greater Conasauga Watershed for a decade or more, the Coahulla Watershed Project officially began when a grant was awarded to Limestone Valley a few years back. This initial Section 319 Clean Water Act grant was focused around the development of a Watershed Management Plan (WMP) to be implemented within the watershed to improve water quality and ensure additional degradation of water quality does not occur. A significant effort was undertaken to analyze sources of nonpoint source pollution, conduct extensive watershed mapping, and collect baseline data on water quality within the watershed during this development process. The WMP (attached below) has now been written by Limestone Valley and approved by a local stakeholder group, as well Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA EPD), and the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA).
The second phase of the Coahulla Watershed Project began in May of 2015, when a second grant was awarded to implement the watershed management plan and conduct “on-the-ground” efforts to improve water quality in the watershed. At this point, we have worked with a fish biologist and assisted with sampling the two impacted biota impairments in the watershed to determine Index of Biotic Integrity scores for the first time in fifteen years and see if the streams have improved. Unfortunately, both Haig Mill Creek and Mill Creek both still appear in relatively poor condition. A few repairs on failing septic systems within the watershed are likely to receive financial assistance soon with more projects in the works all the time. Eventually, we’ll likely be able to provide cost-share assistance for more than 35 repairs as part of this grant. Agricultural projects have been discussed with a few farmers, with more showing interest all the time. Planning will continue for the best potential projects. These two programs are greatly assisted by the North Georgia Health District and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), respectively. Additionally, we are investigating the best potential sites and partners for two streambank stabilization projects. One volunteer outreach event has occurred so far with Whitfield County 4-H Club, an Adopt A Stream workshop. The annual Conasauga Rivers Alive Cleanup is also in the planning stages for the fall with all the same fantastic partners ready for another go around.
As always, we are trying to find some potential locations to conduct tree planting events along streams in the watershed as well. If you live in the watershed and have an interest in cost-shares for agricultural best management practices (BMPs) or septic system repairs that are likely to improve water quality, please contact us. In addition, if you live in the watershed and have an interest in conducting water quality sampling through the Georgia Adopt-A-Stream program, participating in stream cleanup events via canoe or on foot, or having trees planted along the creeks on your property, please let us know.
The map above depicts the Coahulla Creek Watershed Project Area, most of which occurs upstream of the City of Dalton, Georgia.