Georgia’s Water Quality 2021 – What’s the Top Water Problems in Major Cities of GA

The state of Georgia relies heavily on just a few different surface water sources, including the Chattahoochee and mighty Savannah rivers. While not an excessively large state, it does feature one of the more rapidly growing metro areas in Atlanta.

Georgia is currently dealing with a potential water shortage as it fights to find new sources for its growing population. The state is in a somewhat unique position as it draws a lot of water from rivers that feed downstream to other states.

While a shortage does not necessarily sound like it has much to do with water quality, it does. With pressure on so few sources to supply water to many different areas, any contamination issues will impact a large portion of the population.

Georgia and Florida have an ongoing feud over the pollution of the Apalachicola River that moves downstream into Floridian water supplies. This battle is indicative of how pressure on a source can gravely impact water quality.

As the state works out its water supply issue for the long term, it is important for Georgia consumers to keep a keen eye on the quality of the water coming from their limited supply.

Common Water Problems by City

Georgia is a diverse state that features the full array of industrial and agricultural impacts on its water supplies.

Larger areas are using the same supply meaning they experience many of the same issues and symptoms of said problems. However, the treatment of the water by each municipality can dictate some of the more unique qualities.


Water Source

Common Problems

Typical Symptoms


Lake Lanier

The Chattahoochee River

Various Contaminants

Heavy Chlorination

Low Quality

Poor Taste



The Savannah River

The Cretaceous Aquifer

Hard Water

Dry Skin



The Chattahoochee River

Hard Water

Dry Skin



The vast metro area of Atlanta is facing a difficult water situation. On top of the impending crisis of a supply shortage, contamination is a real issue. 

Due to the limited supply, the entirety of Atlanta’s water comes from one main source: The Chattahoochee. Lake Lanier is fed by the river as it sits behind a dam created to supply Atlanta with water.

The contamination issues lie in the heavy industrial and agricultural impacts running into the river from surrounding areas. A quickly growing urban landscape does not help, either. The polluters are carried downstream and enter the Atlanta water supply.

Contaminants include pesticides, fertilizers, industrial waste, and other natural minerals and earth metals. This leads to the need for disinfection, which can impact the taste of the water.

Sediment and iron particles from the older distribution system entering the system can be blamed for discoloration.


Primarily sourcing water from the Savannah River, Augusta prides itself on its high level of water quality. A supplemental source for Augustans lies deep below the surface in the Cretaceous Aquifer. 

Water is held in multiple reservoirs and treated before it heads out to the public for use. As the supply is directly from a surface water source, users can anticipate the water being hard water.

Hard water often leads to issues with dry skin. It can also impact the efficiency of appliances, heating and cooling systems, and plumbing if limescale buildup is bad enough.


While Columbus uses the same water source as Atlanta, it does not have to deal with so many contamination issues. This is due to pulling water from an area that has had relatively minimal shoreline invasion of the river.

In areas where development creeps near the river, like the regions surrounding metro Atlanta, more contaminants enter the water through runoff. Therefore, Columbus finds itself with less of a water pollution problem.

The main issue with the water here is the natural minerality caused by using a surface water source. These are not impacted by treatment and hard water makes its way to the tap.

Hard water is known to cause dry, itchy skin and scalp. Plumbing problems can be a concern if limescale buildup becomes severe.

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