Environmental Management

Print
Press Enter to show all options, press Tab go to next option
Together we can preserve the integrity of our area's natural resources.

Floodplains

Floodplains are a vital part of healthy waterbodies and safe roadways. They are the low, flat lands adjacent to streams, rivers, and lakes that flood frequently. Floodplains are considered part of a healthy stream and are designed to hold in flood waters, as well as support a variety of natural resources and provide natural flood and erosion control.

Our Local Flood Hazard

In Columbia County, the mostly densely developed areas are in the vicinity of Reed Creek, Betty's Branch, and Jones Creek. Localized flooding may occur around these creeks after heavy storms, normally due to flash flooding (intense rainfall in a short period of time, without time for ample ground absorption) and altered typography from new developments.

Are you in a flood zone?

Find out if you're in a flood zone and what to do.

For information on the function and benefits of floodplain, flood hazards, flood zones, and other regulation please contact us at floodplain@columbiacountyga.gov or 706-855-RAIN (7246) with any questions.


Land Disturbance

In order to help preserve the natural beauty of the county, we follow a straightforward permitting process. Designed to provide a clear path of approval for land disturbance during projects of various sizes and type, an approved Land Disturbance Permit application is required for all projects in Columbia County.

To begin the process of obtaining your permit, the Land Disturbance Permit (LDP) table and supporting checklists help you easily complete an application package based on the project details.

Learn more about the Land Disturbance Permit process.


Our Waterways

Our rivers begin on your road.

Polluted rain ("polluted stormwater runoff") has been identified as the nation’s primary cause of water quality problems. Rain flows across rooftops, lawns, streets, and construction sites, collecting various forms of pollutants and washes them into our creeks and streams ("surface waters"). Sediment, dirt, oil, grease, fecal coliform from animal feces, pesticides, fertilizers, lawn clippings, trash, debris, and heavy metals from our roads collects and causes significant pollution.

We usually think stormwater runoff flows into the sanitary sewer and to the water treatment plant, so it may be treated before released into surface waters. However, it enters directly into our surface waters untreated through our storm drains.

A significant portion of Columbia County’s drinking water supply comes from surface water sources such as the Savannah River, Clark’s Hill Lake, as well as local creeks and streams. These pollutants that enters our rivers, streams, and creeks harm the natural aquatic habitat, and can end up in our drinking water.

MS4 Permit Compliance

The Federal Clean Water Act and the Georgia Water Quality Control Act state that the operator of an MS4 must obtain a permit to discharge storm water runoff into waters of the U. S. and waters of the State. The Georgia Environmental Protection Division issues and administers these permits.

Columbia County helps protect our waters through compliance with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) Stormwater Permit No. GAG610000 Phase II Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4). The MS4 Permit covers discharges of stormwater from the MS4 system to waters of the State. Actions geared toward pollution prevention are accomplished through public education and outreach, illicit discharge detection and elimination, construction site stormwater runoff control, and post-construction stormwater management to include inspection, repair, and maintenance of the County’s storm system.

We strongly encourage builders and developers to learn more about MS4, and how they're an important part of keeping our waterways clean, in the annually published Enviro-Source newsletter.

Coming Soon: Our Stormwater Management Plan (SWMP), is still under review by the EPD and will be published here once it has been approved. This will contain more details regarding keeping our waterways safe and healthy.


Preservation

It Starts at Home

Now that you know the facts, how are you going to help eliminate pollutants before they enter the system? Here are some things we can do to better take care of our water ways:

  • Follow package instructions for pesticide and fertilizer application.
  • Dispose of hazardous wastes and auto fluids at designated collection or recycling locations.
  • Clean up after your pet.
  • Have your septic system inspected and pumped, at a minimum every 3-5 years, to ensure proper operation.
  • Use a commercial car wash or wash your car on a lawn or other unpaved surface; this will help naturally filter potential contaminants before they enter our waterways.
  • Sweep up yard waste or debris, rather than hosing down areas.
  • Keep grass clippings, leaves and other yard waste out of the storm drain.
  • When landscaping your yard, choose plants that have low requirements for water, fertilizers, and pesticides.
  • Preserve existing trees, and plant trees and shrubs to prevent sediment erosion and to facilitate infiltration of water into the soil.
  • Use grass swales and porous walkways to decrease the amount of stormwater runoff.
  • Report illegal dumping to 3-1-1.

Adopt-A-Mile (AAM)

Littering is an ongoing problem in Columbia County as well as nationally. The Adopt-A-Mile program helps maintain a clean environment and strengthen pride in our community. Plus, it's a great way for your organization to be recognized for their efforts!

Road Selection

Only County Maintained roads are available for adoption. You can request a road or we can suggest one for you. A minimum of one mile is required. To adopt a State highway, contact the Georgia Department of Transportation at (404) 635-8223. For safety reasons, some roads may be ineligible for adoption (narrow or no shoulders, or roads with limited sight distances).

Who can participate?

AAM is open to any individual, family, civic, business or church group. Participants must be at least 12 years old. Groups with members younger than 18 years old must be supervised by an adult. At least 1 adult is required for every 3 volunteers under the age of 18 years old.

What is expected of an adoptee?

The group agrees to adopt a minimum of one mile of roadway. A one mile section includes both sides of the road. The group also agrees to hold a litter pick up event at least 4 times a year. It is recommended to have a cleanup once each season (Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall).

What materials are needed?

We will provide the following items: litter bags, gloves and orange safety vests. A limited number of trash grabbers are available and are first come, first serve. The organization agrees to notify us of planned cleanup events at least one (1) week in advance to ensure equipment availability.

Who do I contact to get more information or to get started?

It's easy to get started! Contact our Adopt-A-Mile Coordinator by email or by calling (706) 650-4980 and we will send you all of the necessary forms. After the first pickup is completed and reported, we will arrange for an 18x24 Adopt-A-Road sign to be erected at both location points.

Adopt a Mile Forms

Adopt-A-Stream (AAS)

Did you know that certain bugs are actually good for a stream? The presence of certain macroinvertebrates is a sign of a healthy stream. Our Adopt A Stream program is a great way to learn about our watershed and protect our area streams. As a Creek Walker, you will be trained on how to monitor stream sites and perform tests on the current stream conditions. If you are interested in volunteering or would like to learn more about becoming an AAS trainer, the opportunity awaits you.

The goals of Adopt-a-Stream are:

  • To increase public awareness about water quality & non-point source pollution.
  • To give citizens the tools & training to protect their watershed.
  • To encourage partnerships between citizens & local government.
  • To collect quality baseline water quality data.

What is Adopt-a-Stream?

AAS is a hands on, do-it-yourself program aimed at advancing citizen stewardship and understanding of our precious streams. Public outreach, education and citizen involvement are also promoted through the AAS program.

There is a level of commitment involved with AAS and you will get your hands a little dirty and your feet a little wet, but this is all part of the fun about truly learning about nature. In this program, you will learn how to properly identify macroinvertebrates and explore their habitats, perform visual stream monitoring and conduct water quality testing. You will see firsthand how your involvement improves a stream's quality and appearance.

Who can participate?

Anyone who is concerned about water quality! We are currently looking for volunteers from student organizations, youth and church groups, scout troops, civic organizations, local business and industry. The preferred age of volunteers is 12 years of age however adult supervision is required for any volunteer under the age of 18.

To become a certified volunteer and/or trainer, participants must first complete a series of workshops offered by our award winning Adopt-A-Stream trainers.

Columbia County AAS follows the Georgia Adopt-a-Stream standards. For useful manuals, forms, education credit information and State Performance Standards information, visit the Georgia AAS website. If you are interested in more information, please contact us at (706) 312-7195.


Outreach

Our knowledgeable Environmental Services department is more than happy to visit your event for public education, or partner in outreach efforts. We offer presentations and partnering opportunities on:

  • The importance of water and protecting our natural resources
  • Basic ways that everyone can help prevent water pollution
  • Watershed and Water Cycle basics
  • Flyover videos of our area's watershed
  • Interactive Enviroscape table top model demonstration of pollutant impacts on our landscapes

Presentation topics and length can be tailored to your needs (generally 30 to 50 minutes). So, whether you're a local teacher, or have an event where you need a few subject matter experts, contact us at environmentalservices@columbiacountyga.gov or 706-855-RAIN (7246) with any questions.

Free viewers are required for some of the attached documents.
They can be downloaded by clicking on the icons below.

Acrobat Reader Flash Player QuickTime Windows Media Player Microsoft Silverlight Word Viewer Excel Viewer PowerPoint Viewer