For Immediate Release: May 1, 2018
Contact: Casi (kc) Callaway, Executive Director & Baykeeper
Alabama Summer Recreation Season Begins Today Despite Sewage Threats
(Mobile, Ala.) - Alabama’s new summer recreation season starts today, after being officially extended to include May and October in 2017 due to efforts from Mobile Baykeeper and other water advocacy organizations across the state. These months were previously considered part of the winter season, a time when sewer utilities are allowed to discharge higher levels of harmful bacteria and other pollutants.
Though millions of Alabamians are ready for summer outdoor recreation, their nearby sewage treatment facilities may not be. Alabama still lacks comprehensive regulations for minimum standards of public notification when sewage spills occur. “Our citizens should be notified immediately when a sewage spill jeopardizes their health, but unfortunately that isn’t always the case,” said Casi (kc) Callaway, Executive Director & Baykeeper of Mobile Baykeeper. “We want to see better notification rules in place that protect the health of our waterways and our community.”
In March 2017, Mobile Baykeeper and other Alabama Waterkeeper organizations worked with Alabama Rivers Alliance to file a petition to ADEM (the state environmental agency) to improve the public notification process following sewage spills. Although the petition was denied, ADEM agreed to work with the Waterkeeper groups and has taken other steps to improve this process, including an opt-in email sewage spill notification system to inform citizens when sewage spills occur across the state. However, this tool has various limitations and there continues to remain lag time in reporting or even no reporting by some utilities.
Mobile Baykeeper, in conjunction with Waterkeepers Alabama and Alabama Rivers Alliance, urges ADEM to protect the health of Alabama’s citizens and provide minimum standards of public notification, including the following items directly from the petition:
• 12 hours to notify public if spill is “notifiable sanitary sewer event”
• Physically post site, affected areas (defined) after sewage spill
• Social media and news media notification
• Opt-in list for email, text and/or telephone notification
• An enforceable response plan to incorporate these requirements
Baykeeper is also expanding its own water quality monitoring efforts over the summer by creating “Swim Where It’s Monitored”, a program designed for citizens to sponsor a waterfront location most important to them and receive the most up-to-date water quality information. This will be in addition to the 25 locations in Mobile and Baldwin Counties routinely monitored by ADEM and posted by Mobile Baykeeper through the Swim Guide app.
“We want our families to swm, fish, and play in Coastal Alabama’s waterways this summer without having to worry whether or not it’s safe,” said Callaway. “The SWIM program will enable us to test additional sites more frequently and keep our citizens informed while doing so.”
To learn more, visit mobilebaykeeper.org/swim or call 251-433-4229. For more information about sponsorshop opportunities, please contact Development Director Justine Herlihy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Waterkeepers Alabama includes eight Waterkeeper organizations across the state affiliated with Waterkeeper Alliance, the largest and fastest growing nonprofit solely focused on clean water. These organizations include: Black Warrior Riverkeeper, Cahaba Riverkeeper, Choctawhatchee Riverkeeper, Coosa Riverkeeper, Hurricane Creekkeeper, Little River Waterkeeper, Mobile Baykeeper, and Tennessee Riverkeeper.
Mobile Baykeeper is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization that works to provide citizens a means to protect the beauty, health and heritage of the Mobile Bay Watershed and our coastal communities. To learn more about Mobile Baykeeper, please visit www.mobilebaykeeper.org.