Cahaba River Society
To restore and protect the Cahaba River watershed and its rich diversity of life.
Our Guiding Principles
- We believe in creating a healthy environment for all the region’s residents, regardless of income, race, or where they live
- We safeguard the quality and supply of our drinking water
- We are committed to educating youth and adults to improve environmental decision-making
- We advocate solutions that are aligned with the restoration of the Cahaba and the growth of our communities
- We are committed to a balanced, science-based approach to our work
- We believe in creating positive partnerships to be a successful consensus builder in the community
Our Interest Area
CRS serves not only the population of the Cahaba watershed but also all people living and working in the Birmingham metropolitan area. The Cahaba is the main drinking water source for the Birmingham Water Works Board, which serves about one-fifth of Alabama’s people. This “peopleshed” of residents and businesses who depend on and value the Cahaba River encompasses over a million people. In addition, CRS works with many statewide partners to strengthen water resource protection policies at the state level benefiting all the people of Alabama. While the bulk of our members live in the watershed or “peopleshed,” we also have the support of many members from throughout the state and across the nation and encourage the growing support of those who value the Cahaba River and believe in our work.
Our work also serves the diverse freshwater creatures who depend on the Cahaba. The Cahaba has more species of fish per mile than any other river in North America and is considered to be nationally and globally significant for freshwater biodiversity by conservation groups such as The Nature Conservancy and The World Wildlife Fund.
With the generous volunteer and financial support of members, donors, foundations, partner organizations, and friends, CRS is working towards these program goals for 2008/2009:
- Bring our region’s current community leaders and our next generation of river stewards on Cahaba River trips to increase awareness and create personal connections that will develop their commitment toward wise water resource decision making
- Work with local governments, business and development interests, civic leaders and citizens to improve planning and development supportive of river restoration and protection of our drinking water
- Encourage more developers and local governments to learn about and incorporate low-impact design in development to safeguard water quality and the river’s beauty and diverse life
- Improve water quality by finding pollution sources and directing public and private resources towards cleanup, and by strengthening local and state storm water management programs, including our region’s Storm Water Management Authority
- Strengthen the Alabama Department of Environmental Management’s (ADEM) enforcement of the Clean Water Act and its water quality standards to protect human health, and help the agency build a new environmental justice program
- Contribute input and work with planning for sewers, roads, and other major infrastructure investments to support wise land use planning and good design that will not degrade the Cahaba watershed and our drinking water
- Continue to partner with organizations throughout the watershed and region to recover the Cahaba’s most unique and vulnerable freshwater life and to increase ecotourism and recreational opportunities along our river
- Involve and educate youth about their local waterways through the success of our CLEAN Program (Children Linking with the Environment Across the Nation)
- Built the partnership that led the Upper Cahaba Watershed Study, a multi-government land use planning and watershed protection effort.
- Launched the CLEAN program, which has brought over 17,500 students and teachers into their rivers for hands-on education since 1996.
- Built a diverse coalition crossing urban-suburban, race and income lines to advocate for protection of our drinking water and responsible investment in growth-inducing infrastructure such as sewer expansion and interstates.
- Ended raw sewage overflows into Birmingham area rivers through a Clean Water Act lawsuit, later acting as a model for similar citizen actions in Atlanta and Mobile.
- Secured a $30 million greenways program to acquire buffer zones along Jefferson County rivers, which launched the Black Warrior Cahaba Land Trust (now the Freshwater Trust).
- Helped implement uniform sediment and erosion control programs throughout Jefferson and Shelby County.
- Secured improved state water quality standards for the Cahaba and other rivers
- Helped build and lead a diverse statewide coalition to reform the Alabama Department of Environmental Management. This coalition is working together to protect the state’s environment, safeguard human health, and pursue environmental justice.