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Monday, June 11, 2012 - 6:00am

Water Fines Soak Counties, Cities

Georgia taxpayers are paying some of the costliest penalties for water pollution.

An analysis of state data by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found that local agencies in metro Atlanta paid nearly $6 million in fines over the past dozen years for sewage spills and wastewater overflows into rivers and creeks.

The fines have shifted local tax dollars into state coffers.

Environmentalists questioned whether state fines are enough to stop a pollution threat to Georgia's waterways, which often supply drinking water. Local governments police leaks and spills themselves, which the environmental groups said is cause for concern.

Since 1998, four major metro Atlanta systems each paid fines that totaled a half-million dollars or more. The newspaper's analysis found that Fulton County alone paid more than $1.2 million.