ATLANTA — Delta Air Lines and Atlanta’s airport are joining forces as part of an initiative to support conservation projects on the Flint River, which starts just north of the airport — then flows under it.

The Flint River supplies water to Georgia cities and farms, then to Florida’s Apalachicola Bay.

The water in the Flint can get pretty low, said Ben Emanuel of the conservation group American Rivers.

“The Flint River is really strained for flow throughout its length, especially in drought years,” he told WABE Radio (http://bit.ly/2reLEgO).

“There are numerous problems,” he said. “Water use, water infrastructure, drought and climate change are all factors.”

Delta and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport are chipping for on-the-ground projects that help the Flint and other rivers in Georgia, the radio station reported.

The aim of the “Change the Course” initiative, which is put together by the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, is to get more water flowing in Georgia’s rivers.

There’s also an awareness campaign at the airport.

“While Delta is proud to be an economic engine for the state, the Flint River sustains Georgia’s number one industry, agriculture,” said John Laughter, Delta’s senior vice president of corporate safety, security and compliance.

One way to increase flows in a river is to use less water; a South Georgia “Change the Course” project focuses on water efficiency on farms.

Another way is to manage the water differently, and that can mean sharing more, WABE reported.

South of Atlanta, the Fayette County Water System manages five reservoirs, and it used to hold on to all of the water that it could, to the extent that sometimes it made a creek run dry. The agency has changed its approach the past few years.

“We still have plenty of water to meet the demands here, why be greedy?” said Lee Pope, director of the Fayette County Water System.

Now, Fayette County releases more water than it’s required to, which helps the Flint River, the environment, and cities and farms downstream, WABE reported.

Money from the initiative announced this month is funding a study in Fayette County, to help guide water management decisions there.


Information from: WABE-FM, http://www.wabe.org/