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Oconee River: Wikis

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Map of the Altamaha River system with the Oconee highlighted.

The Oconee River is a river which has its origin in Hall County, Georgia, and terminates 170 miles (274 km) later where it joins the Ocmulgee River to form the Altamaha River near Lumber City at the borders of Montgomery County, Wheeler County, and Jeff Davis County. South of Athens, two forks, known as the North Oconee River and Middle Oconee River, converge to form the Oconee River. Milledgeville, the former capital city of Georgia, lies on the Oconee River.

Contents

Course

The Oconee River passes through the Oconee National Forest into Lake Oconee, a manmade lake, near the towns of Madison and Greensboro off Interstate 20. From Lake Oconee, the river travels to Lake Sinclair, another manmade lake in Milledgeville, Georgia, the town founded on Georgia's fall line and former state capital. South of Milledgeville, the river flows unobstructed and later merges with the Ocmulgee River to form the Altamaha River. Along the river there are many sandbars and oxbow lakes while the forest bottomland swamp surrounding the Oconee extends for miles, creating a very remote setting.

Name origin

"Oconee" means "people/place or nation" ("O") of the "skunk" ("Conee") in Creek Indian language. Many creek and area names in the Southeast beginning with "O" have such names, like the Ocmulgee River, the Ogeechee River, Okahumpka, and so on.

River pollution

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Fecal coliform bacteria

The main sources of pollution come from fecal coliform bacteria that gets into the river from stormwater runoff on vast farmlands throughout the watershed. This can be deadly to humans if ingested or acquired through an open wound. Eating fish from the Oconee Basin is fine if it is cooked thoroughly. the bottom of this river if full of shells and bones from middens that were flooded.

Fertilizer runoff

The second biggest form of pollution in the river is Fertilizer runoff. This is measured by nitrogen parts per million found in collected samples regularly. The nitrogen from the fertilizers do the same thing to algae that it does to land plants: it causes abundant growth. The effect is two-fold:

  1. The water becomes murkier from the algae growing in it. This inhibits sunlight's path to the bottom of the river and destroys naturally occurring plantlife there, the bottom of the ecosystem.
  2. The algae eventually dies and rots in the water, and as it decomposes, it pulls oxygen out of the river, killing fish, especially large ones, and applies pressure to other wildlife dependent on the river.

Sedimentation

The third largest source of pollution (?) is sedimentation, typically caused by construction and urbanization. Loose dirt washes away with rainwater, clouding the river and eventually settling to the bottom at a faster rate than the river carries it away naturally. The clarity effects are the same as the algae effect, and the depth changes affect the flow and temperature of the river, stressing the ecosystem.

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