Birmingham City Council Passes Resolution against Cahaba Beach Road

Birmingham, AL—Today the Birmingham City Council passed a resolution to oppose Cahaba Beach Road, a proposed project which would allow the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) to build a road and bridge through the heart of an undeveloped area that safeguards Birmingham’s drinking water. 

Under the proposal, Cahaba Beach Road would drastically change an area of sensitive land into a significant thoroughfare that could carry 10,000 cars per day. The new road would cross the Little Cahaba River and bisect a vitally important undeveloped area in the watershed, increasing sediment and other pollutants in both the Little Cahaba River and the Cahaba River. 

The project would cut a swath through forested open space lands around the Little Cahaba River, which brings water from Lake Purdy to the drinking water intake in the Cahaba River. The road would take public land owned by the Birmingham Water Works, bought with ratepayer money to permanently protect the region’s drinking water source.

Following questions regarding the road’s necessity and location, ALDOT itself has stated that the project will not reduce congestion on U.S. 280.

Along with numerous conservation organizations, local communities and elected officials, the Cahaba River Society, Cahaba Riverkeeper, and the Southern Environmental Law Center have expressed serious concerns about the project’s harm to drinking water quality for the Birmingham region.

The Birmingham City Council has expressed concerns about the risks to water quality, including the potential for accidents causing a direct hazardous spill into the drinking water source, pollution from the road, and loss of the natural forests that help keep the water clean.  Introduced by Councilor Darrell O’Quinn, today’s resolution passed unanimously under the Council’s consent agenda. The Birmingham Water Works Board is now expected to consider a similar resolution.

“We appreciate that the Birmingham City Council passed a resolution opposing the project, showing that they agree that an unnecessary, destructive road creating convenience for only a few is not worth significant threats to a major drinking water source for 600,000 people,” said Beth Stewart, Executive Director for Cahaba River Society. “Rather than putting public lands and drinking water at risk, we ask ALDOT to study small-scale, less costly improvements to ease traffic that don’t require opening our resources to harm with a project of this magnitude.”

“We thank the Birmingham City Council for their leadership in the interest of protecting these vital waterways and the ratepayers’ drinking water,” said Cahaba Riverkeeper, David Butler. “We hope that the Birmingham Water Works Board, which maintains responsibility to deliver clean, safe drinking water to Birmingham communities, will now follow the Council’s lead and pass a resolution to oppose this road.”

“As some of the last remaining undeveloped tracts of land in a rapidly urbanizing area, preserving these areas in the Cahaba River watershed provides a natural buffer to filter stormwater runoff and keeps our drinking water supply clean,” said Sarah Stokes, senior attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center. “We applaud the Birmingham City Council in recognizing the importance of protecting this land and our drinking water.”

 

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About Southern Environmental Law Center: For more than 30 years, the Southern Environmental Law Center has used the power of the law to champion the environment of the Southeast. With more than 80 attorneys and nine offices across the region, SELC is widely recognized as the Southeast’s foremost environmental organization and regional leader. SELC works on a full range of environmental issues to protect our natural resources and the health and well-being of all the people in our region. www.SouthernEnvironment.org

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