Coal Ash Hearing
There’s leaking Coal Ash Ponds here in AL; here’s what you need to know and what you can do about it:
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is holding a virtual public hearing on Alabama Power’s coal ash program, and we need you there to show your support for our beautiful rivers and lakes and holding Alabama Power accountable for their unlined leaking coal ash ponds.
A coal ash pond is a mix of carcinogens, neurotoxins, and other hazardous pollutants all of which can be very dangerous to our environment and our people. Coal ash ponds cause polluted waterways, respiratory illness, and often kill or cause deformities in surrounding wildlife such as our very diverse aquatic environment here in Alabama. The unlined coal ash pond in Gadsden, AL is upstream from the city’s drinking water intake, contaminating the water that is consumed by citizens of Gadsden city limits daily.
The EPA has proposed denying Alabama Power’s unsafe coal ash program, opening the door for public comments and your chance to make a difference. This is a landmark moment – the first proposed denial of a state coal ash permit program. It’s our chance to stand up for our waterways, our health, and our communities.
The September 20th in-person hearing in Montgomery was a great success, but we still need your help!
Here’s How You Can Help:
VICTORY ON CHANDLER MOUNTAIN
We recently had a significant victory for the people of Chandler Mountain, for the Big Canoe Creek watershed, and for all the living things that call this special area home, including the Canoe Creek clubshell and trispot darter, both of which are federally protected under the Endangered Species Act. Alabama Power has officially abandoned its land and water grab: the proposed pumped storage project that would drastically change the character of Chandler Mountain and threaten the possibility of landowners being displaced from their homes in the nearby communities of Steele, Gallant, Rainbow City and more.
Dedicated community members worked together for months holding meetings and comment writing workshops to organize against this ill-conceived plan. Groups like Alabama Rivers Alliance, Coosa Riverkeeper, Energy Alabama, The Friends of Big Canoe Creek, the Center for Biological Diversity and Southern Environmental Law Center collaborated to support the community, and we are grateful for their tireless efforts to stop this project. By standing together and speaking up for the irreplaceable treasures of Chandler Mountain, we have proven that community members and conservation groups working together can triumph over corporate interests.
“We are thrilled that this vital part of the Coosa River watershed and the folks that love the area will be spared from this project. We are honored to be a part of a coalition that works to protect both the Coosa and Alabamians. The Coosa River has been a sacrifice zone for far too long, so we will continue to stand up for what is right for our waterways and our people.”
– Justinn Overton, Executive Director & Staff Riverkeeper
We are super fortunate to welcome Quinn Herring to our team! Quinn is our Community Engagement Coordinator. Her role is vital to our continued goal to develop sincere relationships in the communities that flow through the Coosa!
Quinn is an Americorps NCCC alumni with a history of spending incredulous amounts of time at Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve. When not there she can usually be found painting landscapes of ethereal realms, hanging out with her cat, Mr. Sir, or catching bream and crowning herself a “fisherwoman.” She would like to use this opportunity to “grow and sustain,” learning how to accomplish the goals she sets for herself in terms of conservation work and learning how to set a new standard for young people in conservation.
Nutrient Sampling is a Wrap!
With Swim Guide coming to a close, fall rapidly approaching, and sun-kissed skin, we have officially wrapped up our nutrient and algae monitoring program.
In total, we grabbed and analyzed a total of 346 algae samples this summer and were able to positively identify 1 harmful algae bloom on Lay Lake! This was split between 16 regular samples per week and 7 full sample days on each reservoir dam to dam.
Testing for Forever Chemicals
Our team spent three intensely hot days on the water collecting PFAS samples by boat and by truck along Neely Henry Lake, Logan Martin Lake, Lay Lake, and their major tributaries this summer.
PFAS are long-lasting chemicals that break down very slowly over time, causing increased cholesterol levels, decreased vaccine response in children, and risk of kidney or testicular cancer, among many other long-term effects in humans and animals. Scientists are still learning about the health effects of exposure to PFAS chemicals and Coosa Riverkeeper is working hard to provide the information we collect along the Coosa River to help the surrounding communities stay safe and informed.
This sampling effort is in partnership with our upstream partners at Coosa River Basin Initiative.
Stay tuned for a full report of our findings and what you can do to advocate for your health and the river.
Legal and Advocacy Update
Gadsden Water & Sewer Board Lawsuits: Coosa Riverkeeper continues to address ongoing issues with sanitary sewer overflows through state and federal Clean Water Act lawsuits. Our staff continues to map self-reported issues, sanitary sewer overflows, and conduct random compliance checks on the facilities. Our partners and attorneys continue to press Gadsden for more transparency and best practices in each case. It is vital to understand the issues that the system faces with inflow and infiltration so the responsible party can make an informed decision on when and where to apply their resources.
October 6-8: Southern One Fly Fishing Tournament
(Wetumpka-area/Lake Mitchell & Jordan/Tailwaters)
The 2023 Southern One Fly is a three day fly fishing event with a one day tournament intended to celebrate the life and legend of Dave Whitlock while supporting Coosa Riverkeeper’s efforts to protect the skinny water.
This tournament is unique by its limitation of participants to fish on the Coosa River and its tributaries while using only one color and Southern fly pattern throughout the day, which is slightly challenging yet still welcoming to anglers of all skill levels. Participants will be targeting members of the Black Bass family, making this event even more special!
Join us all weekend for camping along the Coosa River with the tournament, vendors, live music, and Low Country Boil Saturday!
HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT: attend the event, be a vendor, sponsor, donate a prize for the silent auction, or share the event on social media!
October 28: Kellypalooza Music Festival
Beginning as a 50th birthday celebration turned wedding, Kellypalooza is an annual all-day outdoor music festival experience at a family farm in Ohatchee, Alabama that sits on the banks of Cane Creek, a tributary to the Coosa River. Since 2020, the event has supported Coosa Riverkeeper, a 501(c)3 non-profit with a mission to protect, restore, and promote the Coosa River and its tributaries in Alabama.
Kellypalooza 2023 takes place on Saturday, October 28 at the Williams Farm in Ohatchee, Alabama with free camping!
Join us for live music, vendors, food trucks, and good times…. all for the Coosa!
November 12: Lovelight Farm’s Chili Cook Off
Cook up your favorite pot of chili and bring it on over to Lovelight Farm, a local certified naturally grown farm in Wilsonville, AL!
Bring your family & friends and come listen to live music from The Stolen Faces, tour the farm, and eat a variety of chili on November 12 from 3-8pm – all for Clean Water & benefitting Coosa Riverkeeper! Tickets coming soon!