Environment

Ga. Water Groups Call For More Funding For State Environmental Agency

The state of Georgia collects a fee on tires, but that money does not have to go toward cleanup.
The state of Georgia collects a fee on tires, but that money does not have to go toward cleanup.
Credit Molly Samuel / WABE
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The state of Georgia doesn’t put enough money toward the environment, according to advocacy groups in a report on Georgia water released Tuesday.

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The Georgia Water Coalition says funding for the state Environmental Protection Division hasn’t grown, even as, overall, the state budget has. That’s meant long delays on things like water pollution permits, said Joe Cook with the Coosa River Basin Initiative.

Another issue they raise: Fees for environmental cleanup get diverted. Take the fee on tire sales. It’s supposed to fund cleaning up dumped tires that can pollute rivers, but Cook said it doesn’t get spent that way.

“The Legislature is passing a law telling us they’re going to collect money for one thing, then using that money for something completely different,” he said.

State lawmakers have said they need to be able to choose how to use the money from fees like that, instead of having it tied to one purpose.

The Georgia Water Coalition’s annual “Dirty Dozen” report highlights issues important to water advocacy groups around the state. Also on the list this year: how proposed changes to federal regulations might affect Georgia waterways, and several concerns about pollution from power plants.