Savannah Riverkeeper says it's closing in on Brier Creek fish kill source



Savannah Riverkeeper has narrowed down the source of the Brier Creek fish kill to the Reedy Creek between Georgia Highway 17 and U.S. Highway 221 in Jefferson County, Ga.

On Sunday, Tonya Bonitatibus, the executive director of Savannah Riverkeeper, went on a flyover of the area and was able to narrow the origin considerably by performing tests on the water in surrounding areas.

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division has reported that the cause of the fish kill was related to drop in pH. In a status report on the incident, Savannah River­keeper said the characteristics of the fish kill indicate poisoning by aluminum sulfate – used as a coagulant in kaolin mining and sewage treatment.

Elevated levels of alum were also detected at the city of Waynesboro, Ga.’s drinking water filtration plant, which has been closed.

Bonitatibus said the Riverkeeper will have to wait a few days for the tests to come back before the exact data from the flyover can be released.

After the flyover, Savannah Riverkeeper hosted a public meeting in Keysville, Ga., to discuss the next steps.

About 100 residents and politicians attended the meeting, including state Sen. Jesse Stone, R-Waynesboro, and Keysville Mayor Maggie Cartwright. Notably missing, Bonitatibus said, was a representative from EPD.

Bonitatibus said she hopes to find who is responsible for the apparent dump, and that residents would likely sue. Savannah Riverkeeper will also take legal action.

Bonitatibus said the most disturbing thing she discovered was that the creek was impacted 25 miles south of where the fish kill ended.

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