PELL CITY – People from across the state gathered here Thursday for the 2017 Coosa River Basin State of Our Watershed Conference.
“We just keep coming back to Pell City,” said Lem Burell, chairman of the Coosa Basin Clean Water Partnership Steering Committee. “Pell City is the center point of the Coosa River Basin.”
The day-long conference was at the Pell City Civic Center and included an array of speakers.
“It’s about people coming together, working together, for a common interest,” Burell said. “This is a very important partnership.”
He said Pell City is centrally located for those who live along the upper, middle and lower sections of the Coosa River, making it the most convenient location for basin stakeholders.
“I live in Wetumpka on the Coosa River, so it’s important to me,” said Missy Middlebrooks, who works in the Alabama Department of Environmental Management’s (ADEM) Nonpoint Source Unit. “ADEM continues to support the Coosa River Basin Partnership.”
Middlebrooks talked about efforts to help curb nonpoint source contamination to the basin, as well as to tributaries that feed water to the basin, which stretches from north Georgia to Alabama’s Gulf Coast.
“Together, things can be accomplished that could not be accomplished by ourselves,” Burell said.
He said the basin, which includes Weiss, Neely Henry, Logan Martin, Lay, Mitchell and Jordan lakes, is the “lifeblood to this part of the state.”
The St. Clair County Soil and Water Conservation District hosted Thursday’s conference. The Logan Martin Lake Protection Association helped fund the event.
The Coosa Basin Clean Water Partnership has supported lake cleanups and education events, as well as conservation efforts. Burell said if someone is interested in clean water and educating people about protecting the basin, they should become a part of the partnership.
City Manager Brian Muenger welcomed guests to Pell City and the fourth Coosa River Basin State of Our Watershed Conference. He said municipal recreation areas next to Logan Martin Lake have benefited from federal and state partnerships.
Muenger said the city will see more than 1,000 people at its Logan Martin recreational facilities on weekends when there are no special events.
“For a city of 14,000, that is wonderful,” he said. “We’re constantly getting compliments about our lakeside facilities.”
Muenger said Lakeside Park has a swimming area that city employees test weekly for E. coli during the spring and summer. Advisories are posted if numbers spike. However, the presence of E. coli in the swimming area at the park has declined over the years.
He also encouraged groups to reach out during the public process.
“Let your voice be heard. It’s important – it works,” Muenger said. “I appreciate you being here, and I hope you have a great conference.”