Chattahoochee River

Chattahoochee River

The Chattahoochee River runs from the Chattahoochee Spring in the Appalachian Mountains of northeastern Georgia, near the Carolinas, to the southwestward to Atlanta and through its suburbs. It eventually turns to the due south to form the southern half of the Georgia/Alabama state line. Flowing through a series of reservoirs, it flows by Columbus, Georgia, the second-largest city in Georgia, and Ft. Benning of the U.S. Army. At Columbus, it crosses the Fall Line of the eastern United States. Farther south it merges with the Flint River and other tributaries at Lake Seminole, near Bainbridge to form the Florida panhandle's Apalachicola River - the same river, but with a different name, dating back to Colonial times. It is the largest part of the ACF River Basin watershed.

The name Chattahoochee is thought to come from a Creek Indian word for "painted rock" - possibly referring to the many colorful granite outcroppings along the northeast-to-southwest segment of the river. Much of that segment of the river runs through the Brevard fault zone.

The beauty of Chattahoochee River is commemorated in the epic poem "The Song of the Chattahoochee" (1877) by the noted Georgian poet Sidney Lanier. Of course, Lake Lanier on the Chattahoochee is named for him.

Several lakes, including Lake Lanier, the Walter F. George Lake, the West Point Lake, the George W. Andrews Lake, and others are controlled by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, providing hydroelectricity, flood control, domestic & industrial water, recreation, and river barge navigation. The Georgia Power Company also owns a small series of dams along the middle portion of the river (the Columbus area) between West Point Lake and Lake Walter F. George. Several smaller and older lakes and dams also provide these services on a much smaller and more localized scale, including Bull Sluice Lake, which is held by Morgan Falls Dam. This dam was built by the Georgia Railway and Power Company in 1902 to provide electric power for the antique Atlanta trolley system, long since replaced by other forms of transportation.

At various points, the Chattahoochee serves as the boundery between several counties and cities, as well as forming the lower half of the boundery between Alabama and Georgia.

Within Georgia, it divides:

In a rather unusual way, Atlanta is built upon the crest of a large ridge, rather than on the river. This has kept much of the natural scenic beauty of the section that runs through metropolitan Atlanta. This is so much so that the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, spread across several disconnected units, protects many of the river banks north of the metropolis.

The non-profit organization "Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper" is a watchdog group for the northern half of the river.

Controversy has come to the river rather recently because of the enormous growth of metropolitan Atlanta, and the resulting great increase in water withdrawals from the river. Oysters in the Apalachicola Bay, Florida, depend on the brackish water mixture of river and ocean water, and tge alternating freshwater and saltwater flows that the river and the tides provide. Interbasin water transfers also occur, where water is withdrawn from the Chattahoochee, but then discharged as treated sewage water into another river, such as the Oconee River, which flows to the Atlantic Seaboard. The Congress of the United States has been asked to intervene to put navigation of the lower Chattahoochee, south of Columbus, Georgia, by river barge last on the priority lists, since many people consider this to be a waste of water during droughts, and an aggravation of the fight between Georgia, Florida, and Alabama over rights to the river water. The lawsuit is now in court, and that may take quite a few years to resolve.


The most recent major flood along the river occurred in September 2004, as a result of Hurricane Ivan (which also came on the heels of Hurricane Frances). At Vinings at the northwestern Atlanta city limit, it rose to 22.6 feet (6.9 meters) late on 16 September, far above its flood stage of 14.0 feet (4.3 meters). Numerous tributaries also swelled far over and beyond their banks. These were the highest water levels seen since 1990, and the second-highest ever since the large Buford Dam was built upstream. The National Weather Service in Peachtree City estimated that this was a nearly 100-year flood event. At Helen, above the (Buford ?) dam, the river rose to 6.8 feet or 2.1 meters, just above the flood stage of 6.0 feet or 1.8 meters.


Stream gauges are located:

Water-level forecasts are regularly issued only at Vinings/Atlanta. Forecasts are issued only during high water at Norcross, Whitesburg, West Point, and the Lake Walter F. George and Andrews dams. All other locations have observations only.


Tributary creeks, streams, and rivers, as well as lakes, along with the county they are in:

Note that the above list is incomplete, and that each item is not in the exact order in which it joins the Chattahoochee. (For confluences now inundated by lakes, it may be impossible to determine from current maps exactly where they were.)

See also


External links

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