Protect the Coosa River from Nutrient Pollution

Coosa River | Photo by Abraham Odrezin

In 2008, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) established a “pollution budget” for multiple lakes on the Coosa River due to impairments associated with industrial poultry farming and sewage overflows. Despite this action, little has changed in the past fourteen years. Today, the Coosa River is still suffering from major nutrient pollution issues and the threat of harmful algal outbreaks because state agencies lack the political will to hold industries accountable and fail to enforce benchmarks for curbing pollution.

State agencies in Alabama and Georgia (where the Coosa originates), both under the guidance of the Environmental Protection Agency, have major loopholes in regulations that impact water quality, aquatic habitat and the ability to enjoy the river safely. In Alabama, ADEM ignores its own pollution budget by allowing notorious facilities to continue operating with inadequate permits and major bypasses of the sewer system. Local communities are left dealing with sewage overflows on a regular basis with no accountability from polluters for causing water quality issues and no other choice but to bring their own lawsuits under the Clean Water Act.

In Georgia, investors are backing large industrial poultry house operations in risky locations near groundwater recharge areas and adjacent to rivers and streams. Plans for disposal of chicken feces are inadequate, with no disclosure of where the waste will be disposed and no measures in place to ensure it does not end up in the river.

Please urge the Environmental Protection Agency to hold state agencies accountable for impairment issues that impact the Coosa River, local communities, biodiversity, recreation and quality of life.

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Administrator
Daniel
Blackman
EPA Region 4