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Water Policy

by Katie Shaddix last modified March 05, 2015 10:38 AM

The Alabama Rivers Alliance advocates a sustainable, comprehensive water management plan to protect our state's natural resources.

Shouldn't we?

Alabama is the only state among its neighbors without a comprehensive water management plan. The Alabama Rivers Alliance has long advocated the development of such a plan as a necessary step toward protecting our natural resources. That work has begun to gain traction. 

You, as a citizen and river advocate, are an important stakeholder in this effort, and it is crucial that your voice is heard in this process. We encourage you to stay involved. Click here to see ADEM Director LeFleur's list of ways in which you can provide your input, and stay tuned for emails and updates from the Alabama Rivers Alliance.


In 1990, the Alabama Water Resources Study Commission warned that without action, water would become the limiting factor for growth in Alabama.  Our current law, the Alabama Water Resources Act, does not go far enough. While it created the Office of Water Resources, it did not give it the ability to protect water.  Because of the catastrophic droughts in 2007, the Alabama Legislature formed the Permanent Joint Legislative Committee for Water Policy and Management to develop a sustainable plan for Alabama. 


In April of 2012, Governor Bentley issued a letter directing the Alabama Water Agencies Working Group to develop recommendations for a state water plan. Following this directive, the Alabama Rivers Alliance hosted seven symposia across Alabama at which stakeholders met with members of the Alabama Water Agencies Working Group to ask questions and give feedback. 
In December of 2013, the Alabama Water Agencies Working Group delivered their recommendations to Governor Bentley. On August 1, 2014 the governor issued a letter directing the Alabama Water Agencies Working Group to reconvene and continue moving forward with the process of developing water policy. He instructed them to further engage stakeholders, prioritize data assessment, and develop the focus panels.

How the Alabama Rivers Alliance works toward the goal of a sustainable, comprehensive water management plan for Alabama:

2015: Focus Panels

 In 2015, the Alabama Water Agencies Working Group will convene a series of stakeholder meetings or “Focus Panels” to address several key issues involved in developing the Alabama Sustainable Water Plan including protection of flow, permitting, legal restrictions, and incentivizing conservation and efficiency. The Alabama Rivers Alliance will be fully engaged in each of these panels. Additionally the Alabama Water Agencies Working Group is continuing to conduct assessments of Alabama’s water resources. The Alabama Rivers Alliance will work to ensure that the state allocates sufficient resources to these efforts to ensure the successful development of the Alabama Sustainable Water Plan.

2012-2014: Alabama Rivers Alliance hosts Water Policy Symposia & attends public meetings

In 2012 through 2014, the Alabama Rivers Alliance staff  raveled around the state speaking to citizens about the need for a comprehensive state water policy and conducting symposia which all Alabama citizens, stakeholders, and elected officials who wanted their voices heard in the discussion about the development of a comprehensive water management plan for our state were invited to attend. Now that the governor has taken leadership and put this process into motion, we, as concerned citizens, have a responsibility to play our part. We must insist on water for all, not water for a select few!  We must also insist on the protection of flows in our rivers to ensure that “clean water for all” continues to be possible for many generations to come.
Click below for information from our water policy symposia that we have held across the state:

    Public Meetings

    Throughout August, momentum towards comprehensive water policy and management plan continued to move forward. There have been three public meetings held around the state emphasizing the need for everyone’s input to ensure Governor Bentley’s directive to create a December 2013 water management plan:
    • August 15thAuburn Water Resources Center Irrigation Summit was attended by over 200 participants, including Alabama Rivers Alliance Program Director Mitch Reid. This meeting stressed the need for water management programs for farmers and irrigation. The leaders of this effort recognize the need for a comprehensive water management plan and are working in conjunction with the Alabama Water Agencies Working Group.
    • August 23rdJoint Legislative Committee on Water Policy and Management Meeting discussed the role of the committee in the upcoming legislative session. This meeting drew over 65 people and was held in Montgomery. Mitch Reid, Alabama Rivers Alliance program director, presented on our efforts to examine potential legislation that supports the governor's directive. Other presentations highlighted the uncertainty of our current water laws and the necessity for a comprehensive water management plan that balances competing water interests.
    • The Alabama Water Agencies Working Group released a report, Water Management Issues in Alabama, and they need feedback.  Specific comments on the Water Management Issues in Alabama document can be provided by letter, email, or in person to any member of the AlabamaWater Agencies Working Group (AWAWG). AWAWG member agencies are available to meet with you or your group in person to review the report and receive any input. If you are a member of a group, developing a consensus within your group will maximize the efficiency and impact of your input. 
    Alabama Water Agencies Working Group

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