Clean Water Agenda for Alabama
Charting a New Course for Clean Water in Alabama
Statewide water plan currently under development
Alabama’s lack of a clear, comprehensive statewide water policy is at the root of many water management and public health challenges in the state. Years of concerted advocacy by SELC and the Alabama Rivers Alliance paid off for us in April 2012 when Governor Robert Bentley ordered the drafting of an action plan and timeline for implementing a statewide water management plan for consideration by the state legislature in 2014.
Echoing the arguments in our 2011 update of the Alabama Water Agenda, the governor in 2012 called for the development of recommendations for a science-based plan that takes into account all the demands on the state’s waters. SELC, in collaboration with the Alabama Rivers Alliance, is actively participating in this process and we have submitted a detailed set of recommendations to the Alabama Water Agencies Working Group, which is executing the governor’s order to develop the water plan.
Alabama ranks #1 in the country for freshwater species diversity. However, it also ranks #4 in the number of species at risk for extinction – an indicator of the declining condition of the state's rivers and streams.
Many factors threaten to hasten the deterioration of water quality in Alabama’s rivers and streams. These threats include suburban sprawl, stormwater pollution and growing water consumption. Other threats are a lack of coordination among the many agencies responsible for water protection, lax enforcement of rules and regulations and lack of funding. Alabama ranks among the lowest states on per capita spending for environmental protection.
Seeing the need for change, SELC joined forces with the Alabama Rivers Alliance and other citizen groups to develop the Alabama Water Agenda, a bold plan addressing the specific challenges threatening the health of Alabama’s waters.
The agenda targets six distinct threats to freshwater systems, prescribing each a specific course of action:
- Agency Coordination - clarify the decision-making process and increase inter-agency dialogue for better management of water resources.
- Agency Enforcement - provide agencies with sufficient funding and authority to ensure proper enforcement; improve public access to information about violations and enforcement actions.
- Agency Funding - secure increased funding and resources from the state legislature.
- Instream Flow - develop a comprehensive statewide in-stream flow policy that includes strict regulations for water management to ensure sustainable aquatic ecosystems.
- Stormwater Run-off - guide development of local land-use ordinances to reduce stormwater run-off, which carries sediment, pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals into waterways.
- Suburban Sprawl - allow local governments to develop “smart growth” zoning policies and economic incentives to reduce negative impacts on water resources
You can join your fellow Alabamians in this vital effort! Sign up today to support the Alabama Water Agenda.