Dozens of families and friends joined together for boat rides, kayaking and water safety demonstrations at The Chattahoochee Riverkeeper Clean Water Festival Saturday. The free event, which lasted from 10 a.m. to 2p.m, was held at Yellowjacket Creek Beach and Recreational Area at West Point Lake.
“We all need this river for so many reasons, and we have a responsibility to protect her,” Jill Sisteno, Regional Outreach Manager of the Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper said. “Our mission is about advocating clean water and protecting it.”
Established in 1994, Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper is a non-profit organization with more than 5,000 members dedicated to protecting and restoring the Chattahoochee River Basin, a drinking water source for 3.5 million people.
Children and adults enjoyed free kayaking and canoeing throughout the day, courtesy of Pine Mountain Adventures.
“It’s a good cause,” owner Frank Hardenstein said. “When you use the waterways for a living, you want to take care of them.”
The economy has a direct impact on the number of people using waterways West Point Lake, Chief Park Ranger David Barr said.
“It’s recreation that’s affordable,” he said, adding that Yellowjacket Creek Beach reached maximum capacity several times last summer.
Sally Bethea, executive director and riverkeeper, said the cleanliness of West Point Lake depends on several factors.
Silt from construction, improper disposal of grease and dumping trash are a few human behaviors that can pollute the Chattahoochee River, which begins at a spring in Helen, Ga.
“This lake isn’t a lake by itself,” Bethea said. “It’s a 546 mile liquid lifeline from the Georgia mountains to the coast.”
The Chattahoochee River is also impacted by unplanned development, storm runoff and trash from industries, roads, and construction sites, as well as discharges from sewage treatment plants.