President Joe Biden has signed legislation aimed at protecting the Chattahoochee River.

The first-of-its-kind measure authorizes $90 million in federal funds for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to work with local partners on water projects throughout the Chattahoochee River system.

Biden signed the bill last week as part of congressional reauthorization of the Water Resources and Development Act.

“This exciting new program will improve water quality, protect essential public works, and restore ecosystems along the river, which supplies much of our state’s drinking water,” said U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., who introduced the bill into the Senate along with Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga.

“Clean water is essential for healthy and thriving communities,” Warnock added. “While the Chattahoochee River’s water quality has improved in recent years, hundreds of miles of Chattahoochee watershed waterways still do not meet water-quality standards.

“I’m proud to have worked with Senator Ossoff to ensure this provision that will invest in improving, protecting, and preserving the Chattahoochee River gets signed into law.”

According to the Georgia River Network, the Chattahoochee supplies 70% of metro Atlanta’s drinking water. The river is also a key source of water for farmers and an important source of power generation through hydroelectric dams.

However, more than 1,000 miles of waterway within the Chattahoochee watershed do not meet water quality standards, creating potential health risks to humans and wildlife.

In 2019, the National Park Service reported visitors to the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area added more than $200 million to the metro region’s economy, supporting more than 2,000 local jobs.

This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.

Rebecca Grapevine | Capitol Beat

Rebecca Grapevine is a journalist based in Atlanta.