Waterkeepers Alabama launches website, interactive map

Published 11:38 am Thursday, February 13, 2020

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Waterkeepers Alabama, a new coalition of Waterkeeper organizations protecting watersheds across Alabama, has launched its website.

The new website WaterKeepersAlabama.org features an interactive map of 10 Waterkeepers’ patrol areas so that anyone can report pollution to the right Waterkeeper and support their clean water advocacy.

Waterkeepers are nonprofit organizations licensed by the international Waterkeeper Alliance that patrol their local watersheds and enforce laws for clean water. Waterkeepers Alabama, a regional entity of Waterkeeper Alliance, is composed of all 10 member organizations working in Alabama. While Waterkeepers have been protecting various Alabama waters individually for over 20 years, starting with Mobile Baykeeper, groups from all across the state founded Waterkeepers Alabama in 2018 to strengthen their efforts to ensure drinkable, fishable, swimmable water.

Waterkeepers that cover parts of Shelby County are the Cahaba Riverkeeper and the Coosa Riverkeeper.

Waterkeepers Alabama works collaboratively to protect and restore water resources for the state of Alabama, which leads the nation in freshwater biodiversity. The 10 independent member organizations meet regularly to advance solutions for improving public health, wildlife habitat and recreation. These nongovernmental organizations’ efforts are particularly crucial as the Alabama Department of Environmental Management ranked dead last in per capita funding among the nation’s state environmental agencies, according to a study by the Environmental Council of States.

“There are over 300 Waterkeeper groups around the world, and I would be proud to work for any of them, but the Waterkeeper movement is especially needed in the vital but vulnerable state of Alabama,” said Waterkeepers Alabama’s President, Charles Scribner, executive director of Black Warrior Riverkeeper. “It is exciting to lead this dynamic coalition of 10 Waterkeepers who are forging new synergies while maintaining their independence as grassroots organizations.”

Waterkeepers Alabama has been remarkably active in its brief existence, gaining improved sewage spill notification tools for all Alabamians, winning Alabama Rivers Alliance’s Group of the Year award, and documenting the failures of ADEM Director Lance LeFleur. Waterkeepers Alabama is currently collaborating with Alabama Rivers Alliance and the Southern Environmental Law Center on petitioning for a different plan for the handling of coal ash in the state.

“Alabama is world-renowned for its amazing biodiversity, so it is fitting that our water resources be defended by a diverse group of unique and independent Waterkeepers,” said Waterkeepers Alabama’s Vice President, David Butler, staff Riverkeeper of Cahaba Riverkeeper. “The launch of our new website and interactive map is an exciting next step in ensuring clean water for all of Alabama.”

The 10 member organizations of Waterkeepers Alabama are, in alphabetical order, Black Warrior Riverkeeper, Cahaba Riverkeeper, Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, Choctawhatchee Riverkeeper, Coosa Riverkeeper, Hurricane Creekkeeper, Little River Waterkeeper, Mobile Baykeeper, Tennessee Riverkeeper, and Upper Coosa Riverkeeper.

The groups recently selected Justinn Overton, executive director of Coosa Riverkeeper, to chair Waterkeepers Alabama’s new Strategic Planning Committee.

“Waterkeepers Alabama’s strategic vision will benefit everyone—whether or not you enjoy paddling, swimming or boating,” said Overton. “Waterkeepers Alabama works to protect your right to swimmable, drinkable and fishable waterways across Alabama, the River State.”