Defining Away Metal Contamination in Georgia Streams
Rosi-Marshall, Emma J.
Meyer, Judy L.
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Currently the State of Georgia regulates only metals in the dissolved form, based on the recommendations of the US EPA. This change was made in 1998 and has ramifications for Georgia water quality. 943 stream miles that were listed as having metals violations in the 1998 305 B list were no longer listed as having metals violations in the 2000 305 B list. In addition 43% of these streams were removed entirely from the list. This implies that these streams no longer suffer from metal contamination. We have also conducted research on the Chattahoochee River which indicates that the concentrations of dissolved arsenic, copper, cadmium and lead are well below the new criteria. However, data on biota from this river indicate that the food web remains contaminated and that arsenic concentrations in fishes exceed consumption guidelines. These findings suggest that the new criteria do not adequately protect Georgia streams.