Awareness & Education

Awareness and education starts with a basic understanding of how rivers form, flow, and change. This includes knowledge of both natural and human factors that affect rivers by keeping them healthy or by degrading them. Awareness is often informal and spreads from individuals to family, friends, and the greater community. It occurs through things such as casual conversations, presentations at civic groups, or public events such as community water festivals. Educational materials about rivers may also be formalized as curricula that meet approved course of study objectives. In this way, students from elementary school through university are systematically exposed to information about rivers that help them make wise choices.

PRotection & Restoration

River protection and restoration takes a two-pronged approach, protecting the flows, water quality, and biota of healthy streams while restoring those things in degraded streams. It is a way citizens can express concern and get their hands wet and feet muddy to help a waterbody. Activities may start with litter clean-ups within and along streams. This not only removes unsightly trash but also prevents pollution from leaky containers and can save a turtle or bird from becoming entangled in a plastic wrapper or fishing line. Litter removal can inspire a person to think about stream pollution they cannot see, such as harmful dissolved substances, high bacteria counts, or low oxygen levels. Such curiosity and concern has led thousands of Alabamians to become certified water monitors through Alabama Water Watch.

Advocacy & Policy

A third way for citizens to get involved in river protection is to advocate for positive changes in water policies. Virtually all changes to environmental regulations and large infrastructure projects require the opportunity for public comment. Individuals or groups can give oral or written statements at public hearings for such things as dam relicensing, new roads or quarries, and revisions to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management’s impaired stream list. Their comments become part of the official record of the proceedings that lead to a legal decision. Input and ideas from people of all backgrounds were essential in the development and implementation of Alabama’s many watershed management plans. Such public participation greatly increases the probability that government policies will be accepted by a community