Mission and History

Our mission is to sustain good water quality
in streams, lakes and rivers that flow into the Hiwassee River.

Original HRWC Office

The original HRWC office

Early Years

The watershed coalition was formed in the early 1990s due to local people’s concerns about a decline in fishing, particularly in Brasstown Creek. The local soil and water conservation districts were the driving force that brought everyone together to see what could be done. But because Brasstown Creek and its tributaries flow through four counties in two states, making improvements in the stream’s condition proved challenging for early leaders.

“It became apparent that you can’t manage clean water on a local level within our political divisions. You have to manage it on a watershed level.”
-Hugh Mitchell, former board chair

Hugh Mitchell in front of canoe 2001

Hugh Mitchell (front of canoe)

Words penned in the mid-1990s capture the Coalition’s original history: “This Memorandum of Agreement forms the basis for cooperation and coordination between the three soil and water conservation districts (SWCDs) and the four county commissions which have responsibilities for areas within the Upper Hiawassee River Watershed. While the public powers granted to these SWCDs and County Commissions are limited to within their own individual boundaries, the common interest to address overall water quality concerns for the entire basin calls for certain joint endeavors… Through this agreement, these local units of government unite efforts to improve water quality by forming the Upper Hiawassee Watershed Water Quality Coalition.”

On the 15th day of September, 1995, Towns County attorney, Richard H. Stancil executed Articles of Incorporation signed by seven men representing those same units, officially founding the Hiwassee River Watershed Coalition “pursuant to the provisions of the Georgia Nonprofit Corporation Code…”

1991 Gil Nicholson News Article2nd HRWC Trout Dinner photo 19971998_Somethings fishy1999 - Signing the CWMTF contractBob Charlie Lucy 2003

Today

The Coalition works with local landowners, governments, schools and businesses to understand and address threats to our water resources. With a staff of knowledgeable professionals, the Coalition plans and implements volunteer-powered projects to solve problems before water quality is beyond reasonable recovery. The Coalition also conducts education programs for all ages about water quality concerns and what individuals can do to help.

Our approach involves seeking to understand all perspectives and working collaboratively with a wide range of interests to yield long lasting and practical results. Though we are not confrontational in style, we actively confront problems with solutions that are context sensitive and based on scientific studies.

With a community effort, we can restore and maintain a healthy and biologically important river in the heart of one of the fastest growing regions of the U.S. HWRC relies on the support of its members and generous individuals and corporations to provide critical funding that supports our professional staff and gives flexibility to program work.