What the news did and did not cover in 2023

Wow!

What a year 2023 has been for the Alabama Rivers Alliance and for our amazing rivers and water resources. I feel like I have climbed a mountain this year and now I am standing on top of it looking out into an exciting and hopeful future!

This past year brought some much-celebrated accomplishments that were the result of hard-fought efforts by not only the Alabama Rivers Alliance, but many dedicated partners and community members.

You may have seen some of these in the headlines!

CHANDLER MOUNTAIN SAVED!

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EPA Proposes to Deny ADEM’s Coal Ash Permitting program!

Click to read more.

Alabama Legislature Unanimously Supports the Safe and Healthy Outdoor Recreation Act! 

Click to read more.

Whether you get most excited about our headline-grabbing work, our nerdy work, or our behind-the-scenes organizational work, we need your continued support to make it happen!

Headlines are exciting, but much of the work of the Alabama Rivers Alliance happens under the radar and behind the scenes.

As an Alliance, we work hard to lift up local community and watershed-based groups, strengthen and support their efforts, and facilitate collaboration wherever possible. A lot of our work is also just simply too nerdy for the headlines, but equally important for our rivers and water resources.

Some accomplishments this year that you will not see in the headlines include:

Huntsville Environmental Coalition

ARA founded this coalition of environmental partners and interested individuals in Huntsville back in 2019 and since then, we have facilitated the meetings and supported communications. This dedicated group spearheaded an effort to get Huntsville City leaders to embrace sustainability across all city departments. As a result of their efforts this year, Mayor Tommy Battle released his Huntsville Sustainability Report that calls for the creation of a citizen-led Sustainability Commission to advise the city on implementing the plan. The Coalition is working toward becoming a 501(c)(3) organization and continuing to develop exciting plans for their community.

(Big Nerd Alert!) Hydropower Relicensing 

ARA has participated in the federal relicensing of hydropower dams in Alabama for more than two decades, including winning a unanimous decision in federal court challenging the Coosa relicensing, which included all seven Alabama Power dams on the Coosa River system in Alabama. The final Environmental Impact Statement for the Coosa hydropower relicensing came out in October and includes a recommended dissolved oxygen standard of 5.0 mg/l at all times below all Coosa dams. In layman’s terms, this means Alabama Power will have to do more to give aquatic species enough oxygen in the water at all times, not just when they are generating power at the dams. This is a HUGE victory for the Coosa River system after decades of hard work!

Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

ARA has developed a broad coalition of partners and experts to better understand and monitor the massive amounts of funding coming into the state to address drinking water and wastewater challenges. We were named a state cohort by national groups Policy Link and Environmental Policy Innovation Center (EPIC) as part of their work to analyze State Revolving Loan Fund programs across the nation and make policy recommendations for improving these programs, through which much of the infrastructure funding is being distributed. These funds are only available for a short time and must be spent in the best way possible to set our state up for long-term success in addressing historic water infrastructure challenges.

 

As I stand at the top of this mountain of accomplishments and hard work, I am most excited about the promising and hopeful future I can see ahead. In addition to all of this work, we also completed our new five-year strategic plan and branding refresh this year! 

This plan builds on our history and takes our movement to the next level!  At the center of this plan is to ensure that our natural and built water infrastructure is safe, equitable, resilient and ecologically healthy. We accomplish this by working with partners to foster connections with decision-makers, and by bolstering our capacity as a statewide leader. Built water infrastructure comes in many forms – drinking water, wastewater, dams, recreation – each of which is intricately connected to our natural water infrastructure.

We have already begun implementing this ambitious plan by hosting watershed-based Community Conversations with partners, members and legislators across the state. We are meeting one-on-one with partner organizations to share our plan and hear how we can work together to achieve our goals. In November, we are hosting a statewide legislative strategy meeting with our partners to develop issue priorities we can collectively tackle. 

With this plan, we will significantly improve our collective advocacy in Alabama for the protection of our essential water resources and biodiversity!

Please consider a generous gift today to ensure we can climb the many more proverbial mountains that are ahead of us to keep our rivers clean, accessible and free-flowing and our communities thriving!

 

Water Is Life,