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Pollution contaminating two major Alabama rivers

Mobile River

Two of Alabama’s rivers are the most endangered in the nation.

American Rivers’ annual report ranks the Mobile River as the third most threatened river in the U.S. and the Coosa River comes in as fifth. Both waterways suffer from different types of pollution. The Mobile River is primarily harmed by coal ash, while the Coosa River is affected by poultry waste and sewage runoff.

Justinn Overton is the Executive Director of the Coosa Riverkeeper. She said waste from poultry plants inundates the Coosa with harmful nutrients.

“Having a high amount of nutrients like total phosphorous and nitrates entering a waterway with a lot of species barely hanging on creates issues for aquatic life to be able to find food, live and be prosperous in the Coosa," she said, "but also that’s creating a great environment for harmful algal blooms.”

Overton thinks state agencies often protect industries over the environment

“The Alabama Department of Environmental Management set forth these pollution budgets, or total maximum daily loads, in 2008 for many of the reservoirs on the Coosa River," she said. "Since 2008, we have not seen a reduction in the nutrients entering the Coosa.” 

Overton asks that anyone who sees waterway pollution should send a photo or video of the incident to their local riverkeeper.

Libby Foster is a news intern for Alabama Public Radio.
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