The story of a little girl who just wanted to swim and our focus on ‘right to know’ issues

I was 8 years old when my family visited my grandmother’s house in Anniston. I was drawn to a creek nearby. It took my dad multiple times (in various tones) to convince me why I couldn’t get into the creek. He explained to me that the water was dirty and would make me sick. The water looked clear to me… how could it make me sick? My dad was right. That creek was Snows Creek, a tributary to Choccolocco Creek and was the stream that received Monsanto’s PCB contamination. This experience brought me to where I am today.

That’s me, circa 1999!

Our membership, people like you, is a collection of people who enjoy the river and see its value. Regardless if you ever dip a toe in the water, our organization was founded in 2010 to protect the river and folks like you who love it, use it, and rely on it by focusing on ‘right to know’ issues. In Alabama, our state motto is “We Dare to Defend our Rights.” Yet, you don’t have a right to know where the fish are unsafe to eat, where pollution is discharged into the river, and where sewers overflow in your neck of the woods.

Our programs dive into these ‘right to know’ issues because you deserve to have accurate, reliable, consistent information so you can make informed decisions of how you enjoy the river. Our data is free to the public, but is not free to us. More than 40% of our budget goes to our water quality monitoring program, Swim Guide. As a grassroots organization, you are the lifeblood of our work and provide the resources we need to defend the river and your interest.


Here is how you’ve helped support the Coosa River this year:

* Responded to more than 79 citizen complaints and patrolled the river 60+ times

* Filed a Notice of Intent to Sue to a developer for construction stormwater violations prompting corrective action

* Monitored 28 sites for 18 weeks, issuing 51 water quality alerts for high E. coli readings

* Hosted 43 students from 5 universities as interns & service-learning students

* Purchased a new patrol vessel that enables us to expand our sampling efforts

* Drafted Fishermen Right to Know legislation to protect fishermen around Alabama

* Forced significant plant improvements through the settlement of two lawsuits alleging violations at Oxford Tull C. Allen Wastewater Treatment Plant, which discharges treated wastewater into Choccolocco Creek, regarding claims against the Board under the Alabama Water Pollution Control Act and the Clean Water Act

In 2020, we celebrate our 10th anniversary of keeping watch over the beautiful Coosa River. We see new issues emerging like toxic algae blooms. The state’s lack of enforcement is worse than ever, and our monitoring efforts are expanding to accommodate the needs of the river and your needs as someone who enjoys spending time on the river with your family. We need your support as we head into the New Year.

Photo: A.Odrezin

Your support protects public health and improves water quality. Will you please make a one-time gift of $50 or make a monthly gift of $5 a month? Your gift is 100% tax deductible and will help us reach our goal of raising $35,000 for our year-end fundraising campaign.

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