Why Water is Life


Dear Friends,

I have been feeling very reflective lately. 

Perhaps it is because I am about to begin my 15th year as the executive director of the Alabama Rivers Alliance and our organization is about to enter its 25th year of working to Defend Rivers in Alabama. Stay tuned for some fun celebrations in 2022!

As I reflect on this past year, a couple of questions come to my mind.  What do we really mean when we say “water is life” and how are we learning from the past to inform our present-day actions and create the future we want and need.

When I was a kid, water was very prevalent in my life. It was what we splashed around in during hot summer days in the river or at the local city pool. It was where the catfish lived at my grandparent’s house. We were thrilled when we got to feed those catfish in the afternoons and watch them come up to the surface by the dozens to eat. I remember their funny little whiskers popping up out of the water. That is what water meant in my life as a child.

Unfortunately, it didn’t mean that for everyone.  

Recently, I was fortunate to participate in a professional training and the title of the presentation was “Your World is not The World”.  It is so true!  If I had grown up in the shadow of a giant factory or a wastewater treatment plant, I might have had a very different idea of what water means to life.  I might not have ever been able to stick my toes in the nearby river or eat the fish I caught.  I might have thought that water stinks and that it makes people sick if they drink it.  I might have had to spend too much money on bottled water to keep my family from getting sick.

Clean water is one of the most important resources

to help communities endure the impacts of climate change! 

Water is Life is not just a slogan. Through our work, we are learning from community members across the state how water truly impacts their life and, through those conversations, we are understanding that all Alabamians have not benefited from our bountiful and beautiful water resources equally.  Many communities have been left out of vital water and wastewater infrastructure because of historically racially motivated zoning laws.  Many communities’ voices have not been listened to in the important decision-making about where polluting facilities are located and how much pollution is “tolerable”.  Many landowners’ voices have not been heard when powerful economic interests make decisions about what happens upstream from where they live and own property.

As a leader in Alabama’s clean water movement, we play a powerful role in making sure ALL the water needs in Alabama are met and that we lift up those voices that have historically been ignored or intentionally left out of the conversation.  We have the responsibility to understand the lessons of the past, the heroes of the past, and the challenges of the past in order to move us toward a future of accessible, affordable, clean water for all living things.

Your gift today will help ensure we can continue to work toward

clean, healthy water for all Alabamians now and into the future!

Here are some specific examples of how the work of the Alabama Rivers Alliance is building on the past to inform the present and move toward a better future:


Dams were built across Alabama in the 1940s to 1970s forever altering river ecosystems.
Most water infrastructure was developed in the 1970s funded by federal funding. Some communities were left out then and have never been equitably funded since.
Land has played a vital role in Alabama history. Black Alabama landowners and farmers risked their lives to enable the Selma to Montgomery Civil Rights March by allowing marchers to stay on their land.



The Alabama Rivers Alliance and downstream landowners are working together to ensure that the relicensing of the Harris Hydropower Dam on the Tallapoosa River heals the river from decades of harm caused by dam operations.
Through our participation in the Clean Water For All coalition, the Alabama Rivers Alliance is participating in national advocacy efforts to ensure vital water and wastewater infrastructure funding comes to Alabama and gets to the communities who need the most.
Through the Southern Exposure Documentary Film program, the Alabama Rivers Alliance is telling the untold stories of the lands that made the Civil Rights March possible and the heroic families who are working to preserve those lands and that history today.



If we are going to address the enormous crisis of climate change in our state and our region, we must work together across movements for justice, jobs, racial equity, and the environment. The Alabama Rivers Alliance is an active member and leader in the Gulf South for a Green New Deal formation advocating for a future that ensures climate justice.
Alabama’s future must ensure that water supplies are sustainable and that the needs of water ecosystems are balanced with the needs of people and businesses. This will only be achieved by the development of a comprehensive statewide water plan. We continue to advocate for the leadership needed to reinvigorate the water planning effort.
The Alabama Rivers Alliance is working with partners across the state to advocate for a future that ensures water equity – that clean water is accessible and affordable for all. Our water equity work is currently centered around monitoring the development of the Low Income Household Water Assistance Program in Alabama and developing a Water Equity working group in the Birmingham Area.

Please give as generously as you are able to this important work to ensure that Alabama’s history is preserved and that our actions today are moving us to a future of clean water, water equity and healthy rivers!

Click here to donate now.