Alabama Water Rally 2011

The 2011 Alabama Water Rally Conference took place on March 11-13 at beautiful Camp McDowell in Nauvoo, Alabama.

2011 Alabama Water Rally Sessions

 Extra Day- Water Monitoring Certification

Alabama Water Watch is a citizen volunteer, water quality monitoring program covering the major river basins of Alabama. The mission of AWW is to improve both water quality and water policy through citizen monitoring and action.  The AWW vision is to have a citizen monitor on every stream, river and lake in Alabama. The goal of AWW is to foster the development of statewide water quality monitoring by: educating citizens about water issues in Alabama and the world, training citizens to use standardized equipment and techniques to gather credible water information using quality assurance protocols, challenging citizens to make a positive impact by using their water monitoring data to initiate water body restoration and protection, promote involvement in watershed stewardship, and foster environmental education.

AWW offers three types of water quality monitoring certifications – Water Chemistry, Bacteriological and Stream Biomonitoring. A citizen volunteer may participate in AWW by becoming certified in any or all of these workshops. Participants in this workshop will become certified in Water Chemistry monitoring.  The Water Chemistry Workshop covers monitoring physical and chemical characteristics of water to determine pollution sources and long-term trends in water quality. Six variables are measured with a customized test kit, and results can be compared with established water quality standards that define conditions for healthy aquatic life. Certified monitors can submit test results online to the AWW database to be used in current and future studies.

Friday Night Keynote:  The World Outside: What They Say About Why Your Work Matters

Join us for a journey through conservation insights from social scientists and market researchers. The findings are sometimes heartening, sometimes frustrating — but always fascinating! You’ll learn what polls, surveys, focus groups, and other research tools teach us — and how they mislead us — about the public’s attitudes towards nature protection, pollution control, and the professionals in the field.

Saturday Opening Plenary, Aftermath of the Gulf Oil Spill Disaster

John Wathen, Hurricane Creekkeeper and Casi Callaway, Mobile Baykeeper give a bird’s eye view and on the ground logistics of the gulf oil disaster and it’s aftermath.

Saturday Lunch Keynote, Jim Giattina, Director of Water Protection, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Water is a critical resource for the Southeast’s economic vitality and quality of life, and for the protection and preservation of the biological integrity of the region.  This presentation will focus on several of the key policy issues and initiatives that are important in Alabama and across the Southeast; in particular, recent guidance issued to the States regarding reservoir development and stormwater management by municipalities, and the promulgation of numeric nutrient criteria for the State of Florida and its implications for Alabama.

Sunday Closing Plenary

Moving Forward Together:  Staying Connected after Alabama Water Rally, Diana Toledo, River Network

We come together for our annual networking, fun and professional development at Water Rally for one weekend a year, but how do we stay together and reap the benefits of our collective knowledge and strength once the conference has ended?  What is our follow through?  How do we stay accountable for helping each other and the movement once we go back home?  It’s time to grow those deep roots and relationships with others who have the same environmental values and ethic.

Science/Policy Track

Water Policy Recommendations/Alabama Water Agenda 2.0 a focus on our new water policy recommendations–Mitch Reid ARA, Sarah Stokes SELC Birmingham

Water-Wise Development

How to Promote Water-Wise Development

Learn about improved regulations in stormwater that are coming to your cities and counties.  Learn how you can help cities, counties, developers, and the AL Dept. of Transportation to implement those new requirements.  Also, learn how to reach out to local government officials and developers and present low impact development as a win-win for meeting those new requirements. Beth Stewart, Cahaba River Society

Outstanding Alabama Waters and other use classification upgrades. Learn how to work with ADEM through this process and what ADEM’s immediate priorities are for use classification upgrades -Lynn Sisk, ADEM

Outstanding Alabama Water And Other Use Classification Changes

This presentation will provide an overview of Alabama’s water quality standards regulations, including their history, statutory authority, components, the revision process, and recent changes. The Department’s procedure for reviewing potential changes in classified uses, specifically the Outstanding Alabama Water (OAW) use, will be the primary focus of the session. Session attendees will be given the opportunity to review data and information for an Alabama stream and learn about important considerations in the Outstanding Alabama Water use classification evaluation process, including regulatory requirements, data requirements, and the use support assessment process. Participants will complete the OAW evaluation form individually or in small groups, followed by a discussion of their findings and conclusion.

Wildland Corridors and the Trek East– Ron Sutherland, Wildland Network

Wildlands Network is a small nonprofit with a continental-scale mission – across North America, we are working to create networks of people protecting networks of habitat for biodiversity. We envision large interwoven networks of protected areas  (Wildways) running the length of the continent, conserving room to roam for wildlife at a scale that scientific evidence suggests will be sufficient to protect most native species from extinction. This sort of bold vision requires substantial public support to become a reality, and so we have launched TrekEast, a 4500-mile journey by one of our founders, John Davis, who will work to promote habitat conservation efforts at all scales as he travels by human power from the Florida Keys all the way to the Gaspé Peninsula in Quebec. TrekEast will proceed through Alabama shortly after the Rally, and we are looking to actively collaborate with local conservation groups in order to help John highlight the most important actions people can take to protect the natural environment in Alabama and other southeastern states.


Mine Blowing Policies-Alabama Rivers Alliance, Black Warrior Riverkeeper, Southern Environmental Law Center, and United Mountain Defense

Mine Blowing Policies- State and Federal regulations, policies, and opportunities for stakeholders; Alabama Rivers Alliance and advocates

This science and policy workshop will focus on mining operations in Alabama.  The workshop will discuss the damage caused by mining operations in Alabama, inform participants of the state and federal regulations and policies which oversee mining operations and discuss the opportunities that stakeholders have to influence the decision making process in order to protect their watersheds.  The workshop will indentify the agencies which have responsibilities over mine permits and the interaction that they have with each other and the stakeholders within the impacted watershed.  The presentation will include discussions of the Corps of Engineers Nationwide 21 permit (a general permit which results in the rubber stamping of mine applications rather than affording the review required under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act) and the on-going attempts to have this general permit repealed in Alabama in conformance with the recent decision to remove certain Appalachian States from coverage under NWP 21. The presentation will also discuss the Office of Surface Mining’s ongoing development of a Stream Protection Rule and the potential that this rule will have for protecting waters from the mine drainage and hydrologic modification.  Finally, the workshop will discuss the permitting program in Alabama and the relationship between the Alabama Department of Environmental Management and the Alabama Surface Mining Commission and the opportunities that Citizens have to comment and participate in the permitting process.

Organizing Track

Muddy Water Watch training, Part I (2 sessions) “What does dirty water look like?” Mike Mullen, Donna Jordan

Muddy Water Watch is a statewide initiative to train volunteers to identify problems associated with stormwater runoff. Muddy Water Watch volunteers learn how to identify a construction site that needs monitoring, how to conduct a site visit, how to document and report mud and clay leaving construction sites and polluting waterways, what constitutes a violation  and agencies responsible for enforcement. They will also learn to upload data to the Muddy Water Watch website to report identified violations.  No previous knowledge of erosion and sediment control is required.The program is led by Mobile Baykeeper and four other Alabama watershed organizations, including the Alabama Rivers Alliance, Cahaba Riverkeeper, Choctawhatchee Riverkeeper, and Hurricane Creekkeeper.

Become an active monitor of Alabama’s waterways. Help your local Watershed group identify violations to the Clean Water Act. Keep our drinking water clean and improve water quality throughout the state. More information on the program can be found at

Muddy Water Watch training, part II “Getting the authorities on your side” Mike Mullen, Donna Jordan

Muddy Water Watch – Volunteer Training Parts 1 and 2 (Requires Attendance at Both Sessions)

Together the two sessions constitute Muddy Water Watch training for citizens who wish to learn how to observe and accurately report concerns and violations at construction sites to responsible parties, the Muddy Water Watch program, their local watershed group, local stormwater authorities, and ADEM. The first session will address the impacts of sedimentation and excessive turbidity and cover the fundamentals of erosion control and sediment control and begin to get into common Best Management Practices (BMPs) and their proper use, installation and maintenance. The second session will finish addressing common BMPs and cover how to do a citizen inspection using the Muddy Water Watch materials, how to document findings with photographs and how to submit reports to Muddy Water Watch using the progarm website and how to follow up when a site inspection detects serious EC or SC deficiencies or signs of permit violations.

The Greening of Birmingham -Freshwater Land Trust Brian Rushing and Valerie Wilson

“The Greening of Birmingham”

From water quality protection and wildlife conservation to public health and economic revitalization, there are multiple reasons why cities today are looking to make parks and greenways a major element of the urban landscape in the 21st Century. Birmingham and Jefferson County have come a long way with respect to embracing parks and greenways, however, the “greening” of Birmingham has only begun!  From the Olmstead Brothers plan to the Jefferson County Greenways Program, to the “Our One Mile” bike-pedestrian master plan, we will use Birmingham and Jefferson County as a case study in how to transform a post-industrial urban landscape into a livable, sustainable, and connected community

Board Development 101 and 102– Diana Toledo

Building Strong Boards – Whether you are a new Board member, and old hand needing a refresher, or a staff person interested in reinvigorating your Board, this session will help you identify specific steps you can take to make your Board of Directors more effective.  Learn about Board roles and responsibilities, filling positions with the “right” person, planning for leadership transitions, engaging the Board in fundraising and setting annual goals for the Board. You’ll also have lots of opportunities to share the challenges you face and come up with solutions.

Education Track

Biodiversity Streamwalk –

Experience a living, moving stream in a new exciting way with the professional educators and naturalists from McDowell Environmental Center.  You will enjoy the beauty of the Clear Creek and its tributaries and learn how to seine for the tiny invertebrates who live there, studying their adaptations and what makes you connected to them.  Come enjoy a glorious morning of strolling both along side and into the stream.  Prepare to get wet… or bring your waders… and have BIG FUN!–Camp McDowell staff Maggie

Riparian Trees and Importance of Forests – Henry Hughes

Riparian Forests and River Integrity- Forest vegetation reduces water flow into and through creeks and rivers in several ways. As it is removed, the harmful effects of bank erosion, channel scouring and soil deposition increase. Trees in particular moderate the fluctuations of water temperatures, stabilizing the habitats of aquatic life.

This presentation will explore the function of riparian forests in moderating water quantity, sustaining water quality and protecting aquatic habitats. It will explain the accelerating decline of forest integrity as vegetation is removed and the corresponding decline in integrity of creeks and rivers. 

Water Words that Work – Eric Eckl

Make a splash with your communications! Relearn the language that everyday citizens use and you’ll become more confident and successful as you set out to enlighten the uninformed and persuade the undecided to take a stand or take action on behalf of our rivers, lakes, and oceans.

The Water Words That Work environmental message method is a four-step process for transforming professional language into action language that will help make your next fundraising, issue advocacy, and behavior change campaign a success. Water Words That Work is available in three convenient formats:

Getting Youth Involved with the Grassroots

Its a win-win situation when you engage children and youth in watershed conservation. This session will show you how to attract youngsters and involve them in your group’s activities. Debra Gordon-Hellman and Martha Hunter share the benefits of a teen board and how to set one up, Sowing the Grass for the Grassroots. Find out how to help kids in your area be an active part of your group.  Kids are enthusiastic animal lovers so Dave Hollaway will also be giving us great information about reptiles to take home and share with our younger members.

Engaging Young Adults in Environmentalism – Stephanie Powell, Southern Energy Network CASE new AL student initiative Adelaide Abele and Matt Landon, Mountain Justice Spring Break

 Engaging Young Adults in Environmentalism— This workshop will address ways to make environmentalism and your issue fun and attractive to the next generation of tree/ mountain/ riverhuggers.  We will talk about campaigns that have successfully engaged young people over the last decade.