Partnering with farmers to support sustainable agriculture, the project aims to protect existing water quality and restores impaired water quality by reducing the input of pollutants that include pathogens, nitrogen, phosphorous, and sediment into a primary watershed that supplies drinking water for Atlanta.
The Soque River begins and ends in Habersham County GA, providing the opportunity to work at the watershed scale within a single jurisdictional county boundary. The river is a vital local drinking water supply and also a renowned recreational fishery. As the northeastern most tributary to the Chattahoochee River, the Soque also has regional and interstate significance. The Soque supplies an estimated 1/6 of the inflow to Lake Sidney Lanier, the primary drinking water supply for millions of Georgians in Metro Atlanta. The condition of the Soque also plays a role in the economies and health of our downstream neighbors in Florida and Alabama.
In response to documented water quality impairments from non-point source (NPS) pollution, the Soque River Watershed Association (SRWA) led a stakeholder group collaborating with more than 40 private property owners on clean water projects. Working primarily on agricultural lands, partners implemented conservation practices to protect water quality and reduce NPS pollution. Projects focused on reducing or eliminating sources of pathogens (e.g. fecal coliform bacteria), nutrients (primarily nitrogen and phosphorus), and excessive sedimentation from erosion sources such as poor land management, streambank erosion, and dirt roads.
Most agricultural projects exclude livestock from stream access by fence-outs coupled with an off-stream water supply. Watering livestock with tanks/troughs rather than directly in streams can improve herd health and farm efficiency. Importantly, projects also help establish native riparian vegetation to protect streams and improve water quality. Projects are strategically located and prioritized based on monitoring data with post-project monitoring to document water quality improvements.
* Project restores natural hydrologic conditions to facilitate improved capture and infiltration of surface water and groundwater recharge