Environmental Agencies in Georgia:
Who’s Who?

In addition to the federal agencies discussed in What is an Environmental Agency?, several agencies in Georgia address environmental issues at the state and local level. This chapter provides more information about agencies in Georgia.


Environmental Protection Division

In Georgia, the Environmental Protection Division (EPD) of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources is the principal state agency tasked with implementing most of the environmental pollution laws. EPD is “delegated” authority by the Environmental Protection Agency to administer many of the federal environmental laws at the state level.

Additionally, EPD has authority under Georgia environmental statutes to deal with issues like waste, water supply, surface mining, and underground storage tanks. EPD oversees all state environmental programs (such as air pollution control, water pollution control, and hazardous waste regulation and cleanup).

This means that EPD has the authority to issue or rescind water pollution and air pollution permits, as well as permits authorizing landfills. Examples of permits issued by EPD to regulate water pollution include the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits for discharges directly into state waters, Land Application System permits for discharges of wastewater on land, Industrial Pretreatment permits for industrial water that is sent to treatment centers, and Underground Injection Control permits for injecting any fluid material into the earth. Additionally, EPD issues water permits for establishing drinking water systems, permits for building within state-mandated buffer areas surrounding waterways, and various water withdrawal permits (permits to take water out of a lake or river, rather than to discharge something into the lake or river).

Under Georgia’s Clean Air Act State Implementation Plan, EPD regulates air pollution by authorizing permits. Examples include permits for any facility that releases hazardous emissions, permits for new or modified sources of air pollution (these include sources that have not had a permit before or need a new permit to address expansions), and other sources of air pollution.

To prevent and clean up pollution of soil, EPD authorizes Solid Waste Handling permits, Surface Mining permits, and permits under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. For more information about landfill, waste, water, and air permitting, check out these EJ Green Book pages: Solid Waste Management and Landfill Permitting; Hazardous Waste, Toxic Substances, and Contaminated Land Cleanup, Water Quality Permitting, Protecting Your Drinking Water, and Air Pollution.

Specifically, EPD:

EPD Contact Information

EPD Headquarters and Regional Offices

EPD Branches

Within EPD, there are several branches addressing different types of pollution. You will want to contact the appropriate branch.

EPD Air Protection Branch
EPD Air Protection Branch: Radiation Protection Program
EPD Watershed Protection Branch
EPD Land Protection Division

Other Agencies

In addition to EPD, a number of other state and local agencies can be important players as well, either because they administer parts of environmental laws or because they have major influence over decisionmaking. Some of these important agencies in Georgia are:

The Coastal Resources Division (CRD) of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources has primary responsibility for managing Georgia’s marshes, beaches, and marine fishery resources. CRD is based in Brunswick, Georgia, and it administers permitting programs under the Coastal Marshlands Protection Act, Coastal Management Act, and Shore Protection Act; issues revocable licenses for use of state-owned water bottoms; monitors coastal water quality; and manages shellfish harvest areas. CRD also conducts research; sponsors management and development activities associated with recreational and commercial fishery resources; and builds boat ramps and fishing piers.

CRD is involved whenever marshlands are potentially impacted. The scientists at CRD can also be consulted for permitting decisions if any fishery resources may be impacted. There is a wealth of scientific studies created by CRD that can be helpful to discover or demonstrate harm to delicate coastal ecosystems.

Georgia Department of Natural Resources
Coastal Resources Division
One Conservation Way, Suite 300
Brunswick, Georgia 31510
(912) 262-3143

The Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources regulates hunting, fishing, and the operation of watercraft in Georgia. Headquartered in Social Circle, Georgia, WRD also protects non-game and endangered wildlife, including plants, maintains public education, and conducts scientific research to ensure that Georgia’s natural resources will be conserved for present and future generations. WRD can weigh in on permitting decisions, depending on wildlife that may be impacted by a given permit (for example, a landfill or a project requiring clear-cutting).

Georgia Department of Natural Resources
Wildlife Resources Division
2067 U.S. Hwy. 278 SE
Social Circle, Georgia 30025
(706) 557-3333

The Department of Community Affairs (DCA) has many programs and initiatives promoting community and economic development and providing affordable housing. One of DCA’s charges is to promote sustainability, environmental protection, and enhanced quality of life by encouraging local implementation of generally accepted best growth and development practices. DCA is a particularly good resource for solid waste management issues like landfills. DCA gets involved when a landfill is proposed for a county or town, because DCA’s Solid Waste Management & Recycling Assistance Program assists local governments in planning how to meet their solid waste management needs, offers technical assistance and training in waste management issues for Georgia’s local governments, and works with counties on their solid waste management plans, which are required to be approved and in place before a landfill can be sited. See Land Use Planning and Zoning and Solid Waste Management and Landfill Permitting for more on local government planning and landfill permitting.

Georgia Department of Community Affairs
60 Executive Park South NE
Atlanta, Georgia 30329
(404) 679-4840

The Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) is made up of five elected commissioners whose job is to regulate telecommunications, electrical, transportation, and natural gas services in Georgia. The PSC is supposed to ensure that rates for these services are fair to both Georgia consumers and the industry. For example, it is the PSC that decides rates for pay phones and sets the rates you pay for electricity from Georgia Power.

While the PSC does not have direct control over environmental issues, many of the decisions that it makes have an impact on the amount of dirty air that we breathe, because the PSC regulates how power companies like Georgia Power generate electricity. For example, the PSC may consider proposals by power companies to allocate profits to installing pollution control equipment on power plants. See Electric Utility Regulation in Georgia for more on electric power regulation in Georgia and the PSC.

The PSC also works to educate consumers. The Commission publishes a brochure outlining consumers’ rights and ways you can protect against overbilling and ensure quality services. The PSC accepts complaints and conducts investigations on behalf of consumers. You can file a complaint online. Under the “Consumer Corner” tab across the top select “File a Complaint” and follow the directions for complaints regarding electricity, telecommunications, or natural gas providers.

The PSC does not have jurisdiction over MARTA, cable television, cellular phone services, water, or sewer services, or over some types of smaller electrical power companies. Contact your service provider directly for concerns regarding these services.

Georgia Public Service Commission
244 Washington Street, SW
Atlanta, Georgia 30334
Toll-free in Georgia: (800) 282-5813
Metro Atlanta: (404) 656-4501
Email: gapsc@psc.state.ga.us

The Historic Preservation Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources promotes the preservation and use of historic places for a better Georgia. This division works in partnership with federal and state agencies, local governments, preservation organizations, community groups, and individuals to achieve appreciation and use of historic resources (homes, forts, schools, other buildings/structures). The Historic Preservation Division reviews and comments on the thousands of construction projects every year in Georgia that may impact historic structures. This Division can be very helpful in protecting a place or building of special significance in your neighborhood.

Georgia Department of Natural Resources
Historic Preservation Division
Jewett Center for Historic Preservation

2610 GA Hwy 155, SW
Stockbridge, GA 30281
Telephone: (770) 389-7844

The Soil and Water Conservation Commission (GSWCC) works to protect Georgia’s soil and water through education assistance and oversight. The GSWCC is in charge of the many flood control dams in the state of Georgia. GSWCC works within its five conservation districts to control soil erosion and surface water pollution due to agricultural practices. The GSWCC works along with the US Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission
4310 Lexington Road
Athens, GA 30605
Telephone: (706) 552-4470
Fax: (706) 552-4486
Email: gaswcc.swcd@gaswcc.ga.gov

City and County Offices

Local governments can play a major role in the regulation of industry. City and county officials create zoning laws, which ultimately tell industrial companies where they are allowed to site their facilities.

Good zoning ordinances can help limit residential exposure to industrial pollution. Counties and cities also have local Solid Waste Management Plans that regulate landfills and other waste sites. These plans must be at least as restrictive as the state plan but can contain additional regulations and siting restrictions. Many cities and counties also regulate wastewater.

For more information about how your county or city regulates pollution, contact your local officials and start asking questions! To get started, here are some local offices in Georgia’s major metropolitan areas:

The Athens-Clarke County Sustainability Office works to promote practices and policies to reduce the government’s environmental footprint. The Office is involved in management of the county owned greenspace and also runs educational programs to increase sustainability. The office is working toward 100% clean and renewable energy in governmental spaces. As a part of their Legacy Forest Project the office has tracked the degradation of forest within Clarke County dating back to 1938.

Athens-Clarke County Sustainability Office
Physical Address: 110 Bray Street Athens, GA 30601
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 1868 Athens, GA 30603
(706) 613-3838

Atlanta’s Department of Watershed Management is tasked with the delivery of drinking water to the city of Atlanta as well as the management of stormwater in the city of Atlanta. The Department is also tasked with the release of boil water advisories. This department has water quality reports dating back to 2003 available with information on contaminants and the efforts taken to remove them from drinking water.

City of Atlanta
Department of Watershed Management
72 Marietta Street NW
Atlanta, GA 30303
Water Emergencies or Customer Service 311 or (404) 546-0311
Open Records Request: (404) 546-1087

The Atlanta Department of Parks and Recreation is in charge of management of the city parks within the city of Atlanta including trails and recreational centers. The Department of Parks and Recreation is tasked with the maintenance of 3000 acres of greenspace and has created initiatives to expand greenspace within the city of Atlanta. The Department is also in charge of assessing many public trees for removal.

City of Atlanta
Department of Parks & Recreation
55 Trinity Avenue, SW
Atlanta, GA 30303
(404) 546-6788

The Augusta Natural Resources Conservation Service helps the people of Augusta to conserve, maintain, and improve natural resources on non-federal lands. The department works to protect wildlife habitat and provide technical assistance on environmental issues.

Augusta Natural Resources Conservation Service
1815 Marvin Griffin Rd.
Augusta, GA 30906
(706) 360-2414

The Savannah Office of Sustainability provides services that promote a healthy environment and community for citizens. The Office works to provide operational savings through efficiency and works to conserve natural resources. The Office has worked to establish a sustainability plan to increase mobility in the city and energy efficiency through Savannah’s 100% renewable energy resolution. The Office is tasked with community education and outreach in the realm of sustainability.

Savannah Office of Sustainability
Mailing Address
P.O. Box 1027
Savannah, GA 31402
(912) 651-6950

Success Story:
Taking Ownership of Our Environment