River Voice, June 5th 2019

Designations Don’t Protect Rivers, People Do.

Little River Waterkeeper is a licensed member of the Waterkeeper Alliance, a growing 350 plus member international organization dedicated to Clean Water, Clean Air and Healthy Communities. Little River Waterkeeper is the legal voice for your Little River located on Lookout Mountain in Northeast Alabama. The Little River Watershed is in the northeastern portion of the Upper Coosa Watershed and has a drainage basin of approximately 199 square miles. The headwaters of the Little River and its East Fork and West Fork tributaries are in Dade, Walker, and Chattooga Counties, Georgia. Then Little River flows southwesterly, then, easterly through DeKalb and Cherokee Counties, Alabama into Weiss Lake. The majority of the watershed is located in DeKalb County with Little River flowing through Desoto State Park and Little River Canyon National Preserve. Little River attracts more than 4000,000 visitors each year. The river supports abundant plant and wildlife and gives us crisp, cool waters to enjoy during the summer months. Clean water is a resource we can all be thankful for. Even though we consider it a basic human right, not everyone has access to clean water.  The Little River Waterkeeper monitors and patrols regularly to ensure this right for all users and stakeholders.

Earlier this month, Little River Waterkeeper, Bill Shugart, met with the Executive Director and staff from Alabama Rivers Alliance to plan for three exciting opportunities. ARA’s policy director Curt Chaffin, is working with Bill to designate Little River as a “Wild and Scenic River.” Our amazing resource currently holds the highest designation given by the EPA; Outstanding National Resource Water that protects it from degradation. By adding the Wild & Scenic title, Little River will be recognized as possessing outstandingly remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, and cultural values. We would like to thank Curt and ARA for the work they do to protect rivers in the hydrologically abundant state of Alabama. Please take a minute and look at all of the great work Alabama Rivers Alliance is doing by visiting www.alabamarivers.org.

The next point of our meeting with ARA is really exciting. As many of our supporters know, Little River Waterkeeper hosts Southern Exposure Films each year to bring awareness of Alabama’s amazing biodiversity and the issues we face. The innovative Southern Exposure summer fellowship brings emerging filmmakers from across the country to tell authentic, engaging stories through short documentary films about Alabama’s environment — and the people who cherish it — from the mountains to the coast. This summer, Little River was chosen as a film topic! And, even better, the fellow chosen to make this film grew up going to the Little River all the time, so is very familiar and VERY excited to be assigned this topic. Part of the film will include our effort to designate Little River as Wild and Scenic. Filming will take place in June and July and a special premier screening will take place in Birmingham at the Altamont School on September 12, 2019. The Little River Waterkeeper will also hold a Southern Exposure Film Festival in October that will highlight the film about Little River along with films from other fellows.

Strategic Planning

The third point if the meeting with ARA was strategic planning. As part of our organization’s mission to deliver quality programs to the community we serve, Alabama Rivers Alliance will assist the Little River Waterkeeper in a strategic planning session in August. This important planning process will help us determine the course of the organization for the next three years. If there is a direction that you would like to see your Little River waterkeeper include, we encourage feedback from you, our supporters who know and love Little River as much as we do. Please send your suggestions to Bill Shugart by email at wyshugart@littleriverwaterkeeper.org.


“Know before you go!” is the slogan we use for our summer SwimGuide program. May 22nd kicked off a season of weekly water testing in 8 popular swimming locations throughout the Little River Watershed and will continue through Labor Day Weekend. A list of the test sites are listed below. It is our commitment to everyone who rely on clean water for swimming and other forms of recreation to make sure water quality standards are being met in Little River. What is the problem with swimming in water that doesn’t meet water quality standards? Primary contact with water containing high levels of faecal bacteria and other pollutants can lead to disease, infection, and rashes. Swallowing contaminated water can lead to gastrointestinal infection such as nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. More serious diseases and illnesses may also be contracted in heavily polluted waters including typhoid fever, hepatitis, gastroenteritis, and dysentery. Each Thursday, test results will be published on TheSwimGuide.org, LittleRiverWaterkeeper.org and our Facebook and Instagram pages in an easy to read map with red or green flags, no or go. If you are like us and love water science, volunteer to grab weekly water samples. Contact us for more info!

List of test sites:

Lake Lahusage

Taylor’s Ford

Mentone Bridge

DeSoto Falls

Indian Falls

Blue Hole

Martha’s Falls

Canyon Mouth Park

Join the Little River Waterkeeper Swim Club!!

Little River Waterkeeper’s Swim Club is a membership campaign tied directly to Swim Guide water quality monitoring program. People can donate $10 to join Swim Club and sponsor a sample. In return we write the donor’s name on one of the Swim Guide samples, take a photo of that sample in the field, and post it on social media and tag the donor. It’s a really direct way to connect the donation with our work. Go to littleriverwaterkeeper.org and click on our link to PayPal and choose Swim Club 2019 as the recipient.

As always, thank you for your ongoing support and encouragement! Have a wonderful summer. We hope to see you on the water!