“I cannot overemphasize the importance of the Coosa River Basin to us on many levels,” Pell City Mayor Bill Hereford said as he welcomed the attendees to the Coosa River Basin State of Our Watershed Conference.
The Alabama Clean Water Partnership hosted watershed conference at the Pell City Civic Center. Attendees came from numerous cities across Alabama and Georgia.
“The Coosa River and Lake Logan Martin have transformed our community from a wide place in the road between Birmingham and Atlanta into one of Alabama’s fastest growing cities,” Hereford said. “Indeed, the river is the principal reason for our growth.”
Hereford said the city is near the completion of a four-year, $18 million project to rehabilitate and expand the city’s sewer system, which will help prevent sewer overflows from entering the Coosa River Basin.
“As a river community, we know and appreciate the value of clean water,” he said. “In November, we will begin receiving 750,000 gallons per day of Coosa River water from our new surface water treatment plant (Coosa Valley Water Supply District). At that time, about one-third of our drinking water will be coming from the river. Obviously, we have a vested interest in clean water.”
Hereford said the Pell City community is fortunate to have the Logan Martin Lake Protection Association, which continually monitors water quality and acts in many other ways to improve water quality on the lake.
“But we also understand that all of us in the Coosa River Basin need to be active in protecting and improving our water quality and quantity,” he said.
Numerous agencies presented information about the importance of protection and restoration of Alabama’s water resources including the Alabama Clean Water Partnership, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, Alabama Power Company, Auburn University Department of Agronomy and Soils, Alabama Cooperative Extension Service, Alabama Office of Water Resources for the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, Weiss Lake Improvement Association, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Shelby County storm water management and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries.
The Alabama Clean Water Partnership is a coordinated effort of public and private stakeholders to restore and protect the state’s river basins in accordance with the goals of the Clean Water Act. Facilitators are in place across the state coordinating activities in 10 major river basins including the Coosa River Basin, which encompasses portions of Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee and drains more than 10,000 square miles at its confluence with the Tallapoosa River near Wetumpka.
“Water is a big deal,” said Allison Jenkins, statewide coordinator for the Alabama Clean Water Partnership. “More lives have been lost fighting over water than oil. In Alabama and the Southeast, I think we really take it for granted. But that commodity will probably be the biggest issue in our children’s lives.”
Jenkins said 1.1 billion people worldwide lack access to safe drinking water, and 6,000 people every day die from water-related issues.
She said partnerships to improve water quality and protect the precious natural resource need to be fostered and maintained.
“Everybody is affected by water whether they know it or not,” she said.
Gail Russell, Coosa Basin facilitator for the Alabama Clean Water Partnership, said the first Coosa River Basin State of Our Watershed Conference was successful.
“We had hoped for about 100 attendees, and that’s what we had,” she said. “We are not sure if future conferences will be held annually or semi-annually, but we will hold future conferences.”
Contact Elsie Hodnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.