What's new with water policy?
This spring, Alabama Rivers Alliance has worked around the clock to produce a comprehensive water plan for our state. Since the 2007 drought, Mitch Reid and Alabama Rivers Alliance have sought to create a water management plan for Alabama. Much effort has been done in the last year and especially this spring to build such a plan.
On April 18, the Joint Permanent Committee on Water Policy and Management held a meeting in Montgomery, where Alabama Rivers Alliance's Mitch Reid introduced HB 674 and spoke to the committee on the need for a statewide comprehensive water plan. HB 674, the Alabama Water Sustainability and Security Act, would require the Alabama Office of Water Resources to develop a comprehensive water management plan, in partnership with other relevant state agencies and with broad stakeholder input. The meeting was well attended including members of state agencies and supporters of Alabama Rivers Alliance. The same day Governor Bentley sent a letter to our state agencies that govern water (OWR, ADEM, GSA, DCNR) addressing the need to continue to work together with all stakeholders to recommend a statewide water management plan by Dec 1, 2013.
The timing of this bill and movement could not be more urgent. With Atlanta’s inexhaustible expansion, Georgia’s water demands continue to grow. With our state's well-documented conflict over water with Georgia and other states, the need for updated water policy in Alabama is NOW!
Currently the Alabama Rivers Alliance is working with the Governor's task force to identify and reach out to and educate the various stakeholders and interest groups who should play a part in developing the statewide water management plan. We are also working to ensure that meaningful and enforceable environmental protections are included in an water management regime that the state adopts. We will also be working with the members of the Water Committee to move forward with legislation that will set the foundation for this Water Plan by framing the parameters of the plan and providing the necessary legal foundations for it.
Additionally, Mitch Reid has been actively engaging water managers from across the country to build a knowledge base of successful plans from our sister state. He has presented at both the River Management Society's symposium in Asheville, North Carolina, and at the National River Rally in Portland, Oregon where he gained valuable feedback and insight on how to protect our rivers and water resources through sustainable water management.
For more information, click here to read Executive Director Cindy Lowry's OpEd about the need for water policy in our state.
Alabama Rivers Alliance staff goes to national River Rally
On May 4-7th, Alabama Rivers Alliance staff members joined the 2012 River Network’s National River Rally. This year’s rally, the largest ever, combined the River Network’s annual River Rally conference and the Waterkeeper Alliance‘s annual meeting. The combined conferences drew more than 600 participates from watersheds across the US and even other countries. The tremendous conference was even preceded by the April 30th-May 4thNational Water Monitoring Conference, making that week the largest gathering ever of NGO watershed leaders!
Alabama had more than 15 participants in Portland including all 6 of Alabama’s Waterkeepers, individuals from Alabama Water Watch, and many other of our fabulous organizations. The River Rally conference even included two sessions facilitated by Alabama Rivers Alliance staff. Our executive director, Cindy Lowry, and Cahaba River Society's Beth Stewart presented "Engaging Unlikely Partners to Save Water and Energy", a look at collaborative efforts by the Interfaith Environmental Initiative of Alabama. Alabama Rivers Alliance Program Director Mitch Reid presented "Flowing Rivers Under Riparian Laws," an over-view of Alabama's need for water policy. Overall, it was a FABULOUS and ENLIGHTENING event!!
The conference was full of fun including May 6th’s field trips and May 7th's Power Past Coal Rally and River Hero's banquet. For more information and pictures, visit our blog at alabamarivers.wordpress.com.
Board Member Spotlight: Sheree Martin
Cahaba River Basin
Sheree is currently an assistant professor in the department of journalism and mass communication at Samford University. She has also been a faculty member in the School of Journalism and Broadcasting at Oklahoma State University. Prior to pursuing an academic career, Sheree was a practicing attorney.
As a child, Sheree wanted to become a wildlife conservationist but a high school fascination with the U.S. Constitution and a love of history led her to initially pursue a legal career. She received a B.A., J.D. and Ph.D. from The University of Alabama and an LL.M. in Taxation from the University of Florida.
This semester at Samford, Sheree taught a class on social media communications, and her students worked with the Alabama Rivers Alliance to help develop a social media plan for the organization. We have already implemented many of the students' helpful suggestions, as can be seen on our blog and our website. Let us know what you think!