Satilla Riverkeeper switches to protecting Flint River

Gordon Rogers, the Satilla Riverkeeper and executive director of that advocacy organization, has been named the new Flint Riverkeeper.

The Satilla Riverkeeper announced Thursday morning that Rogers is leaving, even as the group celebrates its fifth anniversary.

The Flint Riverkeeper organization was created a year ago but had not hired a riverkeeper to head the operation. Riverkeepers keep tabs on the health of their river, monitor threats to it, advocate for river protections and gather evidence for lawsuits against companies or regulators that allow pollution or other damage to the watershed.

The Flint Riverkeeper organization gained some momentum in the face of proposals to build large dams near the Upson County stretches of the river, which stretches from the Atlanta area to Lake Seminole. It borders or crosses Upson, Crawford, Macon and Dooly counties in Middle Georgia.

Rogers said Thursday that he was on the fence about whether to take the Flint job until a federal court ruled last month that Atlanta has no legal right to most of the water it withdraws from Lake Lanier, the city’s largest water source. Rogers said the ruling drastically increases pressure to draw water for Atlanta from the Flint watershed.

“The Flint just went to code red,” Rogers said. “It’s in the crosshairs.”

Rogers, who has a degree in zoology from the University of Georgia, was the first riverkeeper for the Satilla organization. His previous experience includes 10 years working in the coastal fisheries division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. He will continue in his current position with the Satilla Riverkeeper until he starts as Flint Riverkeeper on Nov. 1, he said.

For more on this story, read Friday’s Telegraph.