Coosa river basin initiative

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Coosa River Basin Initiative(CRBI) is a 501c3 grassroots environmental organization based in Rome, Georgia with the mission of informing and empowering citizens to protect, preserve and restore North America's most biologically diverse river basin, the Coosa. Since 1992, the staff, board and members have served as advocates for "the wise stewardship of the natural resources of the Upper Coosa River basin, or watershed, which stretches from southeastern Tennessee and north central Georgia to Weiss Dam in Northeast Alabama. This includes the Coosa River, the Etowah and Oostanaula rivers and the tributaries of these waterways as well as the land drained by these streams and the air that surrounds this land area."

A member of the Waterkeeper Alliance, CRBI is also known as the Upper Coosa Riverkeeper. As such, they work to enforce the Clean Water Act, by monitoring pollution and polluters. When pollution problems are identified all necessary means , including legal action, are utilized to correct these problems.

As a member of the Georgia Water Coalition and Alabama Rivers Alliance, CRBI works to influence water resource policy in both Georgia and Alabama so that clean and plentiful water is available now and in the future. The organization works in four program areas: advocacy, education, water monitoring and restoration.

In addition to its Rome office, CRBI has a chapter organization, New Echota Rivers Alliance, which operates from Calhoun, Georgia and keeps watch over the Oostanaula River and its tributaries.


After a 1991 meeting in Keith, Georgia with a consortium of citizens fighting local battles over everything from landfills to chipmills, Rome businessman, Jerry Brown, developed the vision of a regional organization that would fight environmental abuses in the Coosa River Basin, and CRBI was soon born. Its first success was stopping a landfill planned upstream from Weiss Lake.

CRBI originally operated through the work of dedicated volunteers in a small office in the back of Brown’s business. CRBI has grown to become a visible presence in the decision-making processes concerning the region’s natural resources.

Today, CRBI occupies a Broad Street office in downtown Rome’s business district.


The organization employs a professional full-time staff of two people who coordinate volunteers and work with a 15-member board of directors and a 6-member advisory board to design and implement advocacy, education, water monitoring, restoration and organizational development programs. More than 800 dues paying members support the organization with their money and volunteer services.


Since its founding in 1992, CRBI’s advocacy, education, restoration and water monitoring programs have helped improve water quality in the Coosa River Basin and have helped citizens better understand water resource issues. The organization’s major accomplishments include:

  • Forcing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to uphold the Clean Water Act through a lawsuit requiring the EPA to set Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) on our impaired waterways. TMDLs limit the amount of non-point source pollution allowed to enter polluted waterways.
  • Won a $500,000 settlement against the developer of a large retail center, helping to protect streams and preserve habitat for endangered fish species.
  • Stopping a plan to “transfer” metro Atlanta , GA sewage to the Coosa River Basin by working successfully with state legislators forcing metro Atlanta communities to rethink their growth strategies.
  • Stopping the dumping of indigo dye in the Chattooga River by carpet manufacturers and the improper land application of wastewater sludge in Dalton.
  • Stopping a hot water discharge on Smith-Cabin Creek in Floyd County by Temple-Inland Paperboard & Packaging.
  • Defeating water legislation that would have allowed Georgia’s water to be bought and sold to the highest bidder. CRBI worked closely with other environmental groups throughout Georgia in the Georgia Water Coalition to keep Georgia’s water as a public resource.

Training hundreds of citizens to monitor rivers and creeks throughout the basin. Citizens collect data which is compiled by CRBI, the City of Rome, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, and Alabama Water Watch. Trends in water quality are noted and any unusual findings are researched further to ensure no illegal activities are occurring that affect water quality.

Educating thousands of Coosa River Basin citizens in classrooms, civic meetings, public forums, workshops, print and broadcast media and in a quarterly newsletter, Mainstream.


Joe Cook, Executive Director & Riverkeeper
Joe has served CRBI as a board member since 1999, and began full-time work as Executive Director and Riverkeeper in January 2005. He is a nature/landscape photographer and writer whose work has been published in numerous national and regional magazines and is featured in three books, Wildflowers of the Appalachian Trail, Wildflowers of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains and River Song-A Journey Down the Chattahoochee and Apalachicola Rivers. He has studied and reported extensively on water resource issues in Georgia since 1994. He and his daughter and her mother spent 26 days canoeing the 160-mile length of the Etowah River in 2002. In 2007, he was the recipient of a national River Hero award from River Network. He is a 1988 graduate of Berry College where he studied communications and agriculture.

David Promis, Program Coordinator
David joined CRBI in November 2007 after working at Columbus State University's Oxbow Environmental Learning Center in Columbus, Georgia. David brings some 20 years of environmental and education experience to CRBI. He has worked with Georgia's Department of Natural Resources designing water quality education programs for schools and public/private sectors; he served as the Education Director of the Outdoor Activity Center with Atlanta Public Schools; and worked at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. From 1988-1990 he served as president of the Georgia Environmental Education Council (now Environmental Education Alliance of Georgia). A graduate of the State University of West Georgia where he majored in biology, David later earned his masters and doctorate in education at Auburn University. He is a member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and was named to the 1999 edition of Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges.

Sherry Akins, Membership Coordinator
Sherry joined CRBI in 2008, bringing her experience in database programming to help manage CRBI's growing fellowship of members. Her background includes data management for the local Board of Education and court system, and her bubbling personality and numerous friends throughout the community support and compliment all of the CRBI staff and volunteers.

Board of directors[edit]

Nina Lovel, President, research and information coordinator and resident of Rome, Georgia

Mike Sarver, Vice-President, Mike Sarver, ATT retired and resident of Rome, Georgia

Meredith Brown, Treasurer, accountant and resident of Rome, Georgia

Ed Bostick, Secretary, retired biology professor and resident of Cartersville, Georgia

Billy Grant, business owner, landscape architect and resident of Cedartown, Georgia

Steve Hale, web developer and resident of Cave Spring, Georgia

John Scott Husser, Jr., attorney and resident of Rome, Georgia

Richard Lindsay, retired educator and resident of Chattooga County, Georgia

Mary Lucchese, retired physician and resident of Rome, Georgia

Carolyn Landrem, president of the Weiss Lake Improvement Association and resident of Centre, Alabama

Carol McNavish, community volunteer and resident of Woodstock, Georgia

Carl Melear, retired forester and resident of Armuchee, Georgia

Katie Owens, field manager for The Nature Conservancy and resident of Rome, Georgia

Joel Murphy, engineer and resident of Calhoun, Georgia

Terrell Shaw, educator and resident of Rome, Georgia

Board of Advisors
Bill Harbin, radiologist, Rome, Georgia Jerry Jennings, professor at Berry College and former Floyd County Commissioner, Rome, Georgia

George Pullen, retired college instructor and former Rome City Commissioner, Rome, Georgia

Bill McLemore, certified public accountant, Rome, Georgia

Todd Carroll, attorney, Rome, Georgia


External links[edit]