Getting on the River

We take the Alabama River for granted. It runs through the middle of our beautiful city and throughout the existence of the city it has been an important resource. In the early days, it was key to commerce and has been the site of everything from ship building to fishing to water skiing. For too many folks, the Alabama River is something seen, but never touched. We wanted to know more about the river and the state of Alabama’s water in general. Midtown Montgomery Living was fortunate enough to sit down with Cindy Lowry, Executive Director of the Alabama Rivers Alliance about their upcoming Rivers of Alabama Day, an event that will give folks a chance to actually get out on the river.

First, a few words about the event:

On Rivers of Alabama Day 2013, the Alabama Rivers Alliance invites you to our state’s capitol. We’ll be recognizing this special day with:

  • 9-10:45 a.m.: Paddle the Alabama River from Montgomery Marina to Montgomery Riverfront (sponsored by Coosa Outdoor Center, which will provide boats and personal flotation devices)
  • 11-:12:30 p.m.: Lunch and Lobby Briefing at Railyard Brewing Company (Alabama Rivers Alliance will lead)
  • 1-3 p.m.: Lobby at State House
  • Note: Transportation shuttles will be provided. Detailed information about where to park will be provided via email closer to the event.

Rivers of Alabama Day was established by the Alabama State Legislature in a 2007 resolution designating the second Tuesday in April as Rivers of Alabama Day.

Supported by both houses of the legislature, the purpose of this day is “to recognize the many valuable assets rivers bring to the State of Alabama.” According to the resolution, Alabama’s rivers are a blessing to the state since they provide habitat to high quality freshwater fish, mussel, snail, and crawfish species; supply the water essential to agriculture and and industry; and support the state’s multimillion dollar tourism industry.

A Facebook event has been created here.

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MML: How many lobby days have you had?

Lowry: This will be our third lobby day. The first was in 2009, the second in 2010 and we skipped the past two years.

MML: What legislative goals are you hoping to accomplish this session or the next?

Lowry: We are trying to continue to educate the legislators about the need for comprehensive water management plan for the state and what that should look like, so when they get to a chance to vote on it in the next couple of years, they will understand and support it. Alabama currently has no plan for managing how much water we need and how we are going to manage the fair allocation of that water now and in the future. As our water resources become stressed from increased demands, droughts, and water wars with neighboring states, we need a plan for ensuring secure water for our people and our communities.

We are also hoping to stress the need for funding the fundamental agencies doing environmental protection in the state. Our state must fund the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) adequately in order to enable them to do the work it takes to comply with the federal clean water act, safe drinking act, and other important environmental obligations. Not providing enough funding for clean water and clean air is not acceptable and is a violation of federal law. We support adequate funding for all of the agencies that work to regulate, preserve, and protect our water resources.

MML: You’re going to paddle the Alabama River that morning. Going to have any legislators with you?  

Lowry: We have not secured any legislators to paddle with us yet, but we would love to have any of them come along. We recognize that the timing is difficult to do the paddle and then get up to the capitol to do their work.

MML: What should the average Montgomery resident know about the river that runs through our city?  

Lowry: The Alabama River and its tributaries are vital resources to the people of Montgomery and the people of Alabama. This large river carries water downstream to feed the Mobile-Tensaw Delta and, ultimately, the Gulf of Mexico. The Delta has been called “America’s Amazon” because of its incredible biodiversity.  The water that flows through Montgomery and down through the Alabama River not only supports life and economies in the Montgomery area, but is essential to the health and vitality of the Mobile Bay and coastal communities.

MML: Why is it important that someone living in Montgomery know about and care about the Alabama River?

Lowry: Every Alabamian should know their local river or stream and care about it, because it takes citizen action and caring to keep rivers clean and healthy. Rivers don’t have their own voice and our rivers have many demands on them from disseminating pollution from industry to providing drinking water to people. If we don’t make sure our rivers are protected, we stand to lose the most vital resource in our communities.

MML: If someone wants to join you and paddle the Alabama River, what can they do to participate?

They can visit www.alabamarivers.org and register online for our Rivers of Alabama Day or they can call Adam Johnston at 205-322-6395.

MML: You’re a statewide group, but are there Montgomery organizations that our readers might want to know about that are involved in river health and/or protection?  

Lowry: We work with groups all over the state and would like to see more local river advocacy groups in the Montgomery area. Currently Montgomery readers can check out their Alabama/Tombigbee Clean Water Partnership and there is a group in Prattville that recently formed to work around Autauga Creek. Readers can visit our website and look at our Grassroots Directory for a listing of groups around the state. If any citizens are interested in forming a group in Montgomery around the Alabama River and its protection, we would love to help them get started.

Kate and Stephen are Midtown residents with a cat, a dog, a garden, an old house and a sense of adventure. They write about life in Midtown here and about life in Montgomery at their blog Lost in Montgomery.

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