News | October 17, 2017

Alabama voters want action on state water plan

The majority of Alabama voters strongly supports the creation of a comprehensive state water plan and are concerned about threats to state waters, according to a recent survey.

The survey of over 400 registered voters throughout Alabama finds that four-in-five voters support the state legislature taking action to establish a statewide water action plan. According to the survey, conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, 83 percent of voters view rivers and streams as state treasures that are critical to the Alabama economy.

Voters show overwhelming support for several potential outcomes of a comprehensive state water plan: 71 percent of voters support creating a permit for utilities, agriculture, manufacturers, and other major water users that is reviewed annually so that the Alabama Department of Environmental Management can better measure water use.

Times of Drought

Little River Canyon near Ft. Payne, AL, shown here in fall of 2016, came close to drying up due to extreme drought conditions that plagued Alabama this time last year.

Overall, there is a consensus among Alabama voters that state and local government officials must have a plan to protect water in the state, especially during periods of drought and other times of crisis.

As we saw with last year’s drought, and after previous water scarcities, waiting for an emergency situation to take piecemeal action just puts us further behind our neighbors,” said SELC staff attorney Sarah Stokes. “The majority of Alabama citizens recognize the need to get a plan on the books. It’s time for our elected officials to take the reins and put strong, protective policies in place that address our current and future water needs, once and for all.

The survey shows that 80 percent of voters are in favor of conservation efforts and limitations on upstream water withdrawals to prevent rivers and streams from drying up. The Mobile Bay Basin has been listed as one of the nation’s most endangered waterways for 2017 due to a lack of upstream planning.

As the only state among its neighbors that does not have a statewide water management plan, SELC and Alabama Rivers Alliance have long advocated for developing a plan in order to address Alabama’s water needs while improving and safeguarding the health of its water resources. Both groups actively participated in a series of stakeholder meetings to address several key issues involved in developing Alabama’s water plan.

Currently, a report outlining recommendations for a state water plan is awaiting action from Governor Kay Ivey.  SELC and ARA are urging the Governor and the Permanent Joint Legislative Committee on Water Policy and Management in the Alabama legislature to take immediate action on the report and begin the necessary steps to create a water plan.

It comes as no surprise that Alabama’s citizens want to ensure our water is protected so that our children and grandchildren can continue to enjoy our outdoor traditions and have plenty of clean, affordable drinking water,” said Cindy Lowry, executive director of ARA. “We also want to make sure our elected officials remember these results when making policy decisions that impact our rivers and streams in the upcoming legislative session.

Read the full polling memo here.