RE: NANFA-- Upper Cahaba Watershed, AL

Bruce Stallsmith (
Thu, 21 Nov 2002 10:38:40 -0500

There was, of course, an element of who let the geeks in. My doubts, and the
doubts of a surprisingly large number of other people at the meeting from
what I heard, was that this whole "Study" is to show pretend concern for
water quality while signing off on more poorly-planned development. Existing
zoning and use laws are poorly enforced at best, and arguably inadequate
anyway. Much of this watershed is rural or very recently rural, and farmland
and woodlands are being converted into subdivisions and strip malls. The
most immediate and visible impact of this land use change is soil runoff
into local streams. A sustained rainstorm will make the Cahaba run red with
clay runoff, which wasn't the case until about 15 years ago. The "technical
experts" convened by this Study say this is normal and it's always happened.
This isn't true. These "technical experts" aren't hydrological engineers or
scientists, but representatives of local municipalities, the Jefferson
County commissioners and commercial real estate companies.

So my cynicism is based on a feeling that this whole process is a feel-good
operation designed to disarm any serious questioning of the status quo.
Local groups like the Cahaba River Society are organizing people to
participate in this process and, for one thing, make any recommendations by
this Study legally binding. The meeting conveners didn't look happy at that
suggestion.... so the struggle continues.

--Bruce Stallsmith
Huntsville, AL, US of A

>From: "Crail, Todd" <>
>To: <>
>Subject: RE: NANFA-- Upper Cahaba Watershed, AL
>Date: Thu, 21 Nov 2002 09:16:22 -0500
>Very interesting Bruce.
>Were they uncomfortable about improvement because they were figurehead
>and they didn't have a study, sound byte or economic impact in their hands
>make conclusions etc, which you were sorta asking for... Or was it just a
>matter of "Okay... Who let the geeks in?" :)
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Bruce Stallsmith
>It will be an
>interesting process to follow, since the Cahaba already falls short of
>federal water standards and the people running this Study were obviously
>nudgy at the meeting when questioned about actually _improving_ water
>quality and reducing further threats to fishes and mussels. I suspect this
>same kind of process (or game?) is being played out in other metro regions.
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