, Director of Swimmable Water Programs
Posted: May 21, 2015 at 5:20 pm

Alabama- The River State. It’s a well deserved, though not well known, alias. Over 124,000 km of rivers and streams crisscross the state. Another of Alabama’s unsung qualities is that its waterways house more freshwater biodiversity than any other state in the US.

Alabama also stands out in the US for having lost more aquatic life to extinction than any other state.

The Coosa River is one of Alabama’s most important tributaries. It’s a remarkable river. It is also one of the most worn out rivers in the country. In fact, the Coosa was rated as the tenth most endangered river in the US in 2010 by American Rivers).

The river originates in the headwaters of Georgia and Tennessee. Near Montgomery it joins the Tallapoosa River and together they run all the way down to Mobile Bay as the Alabama River.

The Coosa River is home to an astounding number of freshwater fish, snail, turtle, and mussel species. The richness of the basin supported the Coosa chiefdom for hundreds of years and Alabama’s settler populations for hundreds more.

Development and the introduction of dams in the early 1900s brought drastic changes to the river.

Since 1914 the Coosa has been so severely impounded by dams that it is no longer considered to have a stream ecology. Rather, as the Coosa Riverkeeper describes it, the Coosa River “is more so a series of artificial lakes.” The changes the dams brought to the river wiped out 30% of the species on the river, one of the biggest extinction events of the twentieth century.

The Coosa is in bad shape. That does not make the river any less beloved however.

Photo by David Lawson

Alabamians still flock to the river to swim, to fish, to paddle. It remains an integral part of the lives of the people that reside in the river basin.

Frank Chitwood, Coosa Riverkeeper

Coosa’s Riverkeeper, Frank Chitwood,is our newest Swim Guide affiliate.

Chitwood’s accomplishments are significant. He is one of the youngest environmental leaders in Alabama. In addition to his work to protect and restore the river and its tributaries, Chitwood has made it a mission to help locals find their “Coosa Connection.” Helping people remember their connection to the water and get back down to the river is vital to the Riverkeeper’s work.

Coosa Riverkeeper Recreational Water Quality Monitoring

Coosa Riverkeeper has added a recreational arm to its extensive water quality monitoring program.

The recreational water quality data Chitwood collects along the Coosa is now available on Swim Guide. Coosa’s recreational water quality monitoring was launched in 2015. Information for 14 popular swim sites on the Coosa is now available on Swim Guide as well as on the Coosa Riverkeeper website.

Welcome aboard Coosa Riverkeeper! We are delighted to have you. A big thanks for all the water quality information you provide to those who love the Coosa River.

More on the Coosa River

The Coosa Riverkeeper is the protect, restore, and promote the river. It is no small challenge.
Read more about the list of threats to the river:
Contaminated Fish
Impaired Waterways
Power Plants
Dams & Impoundments
Water Wars, Water Rights, & Use Allocation
Proposed White Rock Quarries in Vincent

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