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Cahaba River Society Updates, News, & Events
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CAHABA CURRENT   -    AUGUST 2020

With its amazing biodiversity, the Cahaba River is a top destination for anglers. Its fish have been an important food source for Cahaba communities from the earliest Native American inhabitants to the present day. But are they safe to eat?
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 Alabama Fish Consumption Advisories

The Alabama Department of Health has released fish consumption advisories for 2020. What do they say about the safety of eating Cahaba fish?

In July, the Alabama Department of Public Health released its annual fish consumption advisories, a list of the state’s recommended limits on eating different types of fish found in Alabama’s rivers and streams.

The department catches and tests certain types of fish and then issues advisories to anglers not to eat fish or limiting consumption of fish that are contaminated with dangerous pollutants. Two hundred and thirteen advisories were issued across 98 waterbodies in Alabama.

Three of these advisories occurred in the Cahaba River, and all of these advisories were due to mercury, an airborne pollutant caused by the burning of fossil fuels, as is done by coal-fired power plants, and the burning of waste. 

Fishing is a popular activity along the Cahaba and its tributaries, and many anglers rely on this food source to supplement their family’s diet. These people deserve to be able to rely on the fact that the fish they are eating are safe.  Right now, it is unlikely that consuming bass from the Cahaba River more than one time per month is safe. In some places on the Cahaba, the Alabama Department of Public Health recommend not eating any bass.

Until more widespread monitoring shows that most areas of the Cahaba are safe in this regard, we discourage people from eating any bass from the Cahaba River.

Read more about Cahaba Fish Consumption Advisories

 A Virtual Poetry Reading with Tina Mozelle Braziel from the banks of the Cahaba

This new feature is part of the Cahaba River Society's work to connect people with the Cahaba through art and our digitization of our CLEAN Environmental Education Program
Enjoy this virtual poetry reading with Tina Mozelle Brazile, winner of the Philip Levine Prize for Poetry for her book, Known by Salt, and director of the UAB Ada Long Creative Writing Workshop for high school students.
This reading was created during the pandemic, because of the enduring relationship with CRS made possible by Tina's tenure as the Magic City Poetry Festival 2019 Eco Poet.

During her year-long fellowship, Tina partnered with Cahaba River Society to increase awareness about threats to local waterways while training young persons to use the power of poetry to defend and honor local ecologies. Explore the connections between art and nature as Tina takes you to beautiful sections of the Cahaba River that are sure to bring you inspiration.


Thank you to Magic City Poetry Festival for supporting Tina and CRS!
 
See our CLEAN Virtual Creative Writing Workshops

 Alabama State Department of Environmental Management’s Nutrient Management Efforts

ADEM's latest report shows progress at tackling the problem of nutrient pollution in our waterways

The Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) has recently released an interesting presentation about nutrient management for Alabama rivers and lakes that demonstrates much-needed progress in coping with the problem of nutrient pollution.

The opening slides of the presentation describe programmatic approaches that have resulted in these impressive improvements. A short history of the adoption of Numeric Nutrient Criteria for forty lakes and reservoirs and adoption of Nutrient Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for 32 stream segments is followed by a series of nutrient management case studies.
 

An Interpretation of the Results

Of particular interest for those of us who love the Cahaba River, beginning on slide 24, is the Cahaba River Case Study.  Slides 32 to 34 show how phosphorus at three monitoring locations in the upper Cahaba are now meeting the Nutrient TMDL in-stream phosphorus target of 0.035 mg/l. Over many years, Cahaba River Society has worked closely with ADEM and the wastewater treatment operators in our basin to find cost-effective nutrient removal solutions and keep the focus on reaching these important goals.

One of the important problems associated with excessive phosphorus discharges is the wide dissolved oxygen (DO) swings the river experiences through the day, with high DO during the day, followed by low (too low) DO at night.  Slides 35-39 show how those diurnal cycles (24 hour cycles) have come back to more normal values since ADEM has focused on nutrient management.

Our Conclusion

The Cahaba and many other Alabama streams have suffered from excessive nutrient loading over the past 30 years, so these results are very good news!  ADEM has made a very positive improvement in controlling this serious pollution problem in the Cahaba River.

Read more and see the Report

 Taro in the lilies: Volunteers Needed!

Cahaba River Society is seeking volunteers to help remove taro from critical Cahaba Lily habitat
A patch of Wild Taro grows in Hargrove Shoals at the Cahaba National Wildlife Refuge.
On August 12th, a hard-working group of volunteers from Spire, the energy company, worked with CRS staff to remove invasive Taro from Cahaba Lily habitat in the Cahaba National Wildlife Refuge. The hard-working volunteers dug up more Taro than could be hauled back up river for disposal, and put a big dent in the taro population.

In this first attempt, we got about half the taro out of the patch. Extremely low water levels were a hindrance to our efforts. We had to drag the Taro in canoes back upstream to our access point, and the overladen boats were extremely difficult to pull back up through shallow areas. CRS staff had never seen the water so low; if it had been a bit higher we could have floated downstream to an easier access point. That will be the plan for next time.

We need to go back and finish the job. Getting the hated Taro out of the Lily habitat is vital, because Taro is extremely invasive. A small patch can grow very large in a year, and could crowd out the lilies

The unusual August rainfall has brought the water level up a bit, at least on certain days. We are asking if any of our members and supporters would be willing to help us finish this project, on fairly short notice. We might have only a day or two to decide that conditions warrant the trip into the lilies.

While digging the Taro up isn’t particularly difficult, walking around in the shoals is. The uneven rocky bottom, with many slippery spots, makes footing precarious. There will be some wading to get out into the Taro patch, and some wading pulling the loaded canoes for at least a short distance. Volunteers will need to be in good physical health.

If this sounds like fun--despite the desperate need to get the Taro out of the lilies, there truly is an element of humor involved--please contact  Gordon Black. We’ll try to plan the trip at least one or two days before we go, based on acceptable water levels. We’re looking for about 300 cubic feet per second (cfs) on the West Blocton gauge. For reference, on the day Spire helped the level was below 100 cfs.

Come join the few, the proud, the muddy and wet. The Lilies need you!
Volunteer to Fight Taro

 Shades Creek gets a new Litter Gitter

Partners working together to keep litter out of Shades Creek and the Cahaba
On July 7th, the second Litter Gitter was installed in the Shades Creek drainage area. This one is in Shades Creek itself just downstream of, and visible from, the westernmost bridge over the creek to Brookwood Village.
Thanks to Freshwater Land Trust and River Network, Inc. for installing Litter Gitters in streams throughout the Metro Area. The above photos were taken the day after installation during high water. Note all the balls and trash that had been collected by the Litter Gitter in just one day's time.
CRS works hard with volunteers to clean up our River, and Shades Creek is the largest tributary. Let’s all do more to never litter, reduce, reuse and recycle, to keep trash out of our waterways - learn more here.

 Support for Perry Lakes Park

Cahaba River Society and partners seek to help reopen the park
Drone Pilot David Shaddix captured this footage of Perry Lakes Park on a recent visit. Sadly, this beautiful park is currently in a state of disrepair.
As we reported in our last edition of Cahaba Current, one of the best places for the public to enjoy the magical diversity of the Cahaba River - Perry Lakes Park, in Perry County - has been closed to auto access because of deterioration of the magnificent facilities originally created by the Auburn Rural Studio. 

From 2002 through 2019, we conducted many outings to the Park. A rough and conservative estimate of the number of people attending our paddling/hiking trips over the past 18 years easily exceeds 600 people. CRS hopes to see the park restored and preserved so that it can continue to enchant generations of future visitors.

We are excited that Alabama Audubon is coordinating partners to identify repair needs at the park and advocate for restoration and reopening. CRS is supporting this collaboration by helping gather volunteers, connect with local residents, and document needs.If you want to help, contact us at info@cahabariversociety.org. 

As a member of this coalition, CRS recently sent a letter to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources expressing support for restoration and reopening of Perry Lakes Park. Consider sending your own letter to ADCNR to let them know how important this park is to you.
Read our letter of support

Fry-Down 2020: Fried-Down, But Not Out!

Tuesday, Sept 29 - Sunday, Oct 4│at FryDown.com

Don't miss this year's  unique, interactive and FREE experience that everyone can enjoy!

Join in the fun while doing your part to help us protect, conserve and restore our treasured River for future generations!

Get in on the Action!

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