What is the Coosa River Basin Initiative?
CRBI is a 501c3 grassroots environmental organization based in Rome, Georgia with the mission of informing and empowering citizens so that they may become involved in the process of creating a clean, healthy and economically viable Coosa River Basin. Since 1992, our 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 international Waterkeeper Alliance, CRBI is also known as the Upper Coosa Riverkeeper. As such, we work to enforce the Clean Water Act, by monitoring pollution and polluters. When pollution problems are identified we use all means necessary, including legal action, to correct these problems.
As a member of the Georgia Water Coalition and Alabama Rivers Alliance, we work to influence water resource policy in both Georgia and Alabama so that clean and plentiful water is available today and for future generations. We work in four program areas: advocacy, education, water monitoring and restoration. Our two staff members, 15-member Board of Directors and 6-member Advisory Board direct the efforts of CRBI's more than 800 members.
In addition to our 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.
View a 2-minute video introduction to CRBI and its mission:
Video production courtesy of Susan Berry and Isee Marketing Group. E-mail Susan at email@example.com
After a 1991 meeting in Keith, Georgia with a diverse 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 entire Coosa River Basin, and CRBI was soon born. Its first success was stopping a landfill sited upstream from Weiss Lake.
CRBI originally operated through the work of dedicated volunteers in a cramped office in the back of Brown’s business. From these humble beginnings, 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 staff of two people who coordinate volunteers and work with an 18-member board of directors 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.
Stopping a plan to “transfer” metro Atlanta 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 our 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.
Board of Directors
Nina Lovel, President, webmaster/data management coordinator and resident of Rome, Georgia
Mike Sarver, Vice-President, ATT retired and resident of Rome, Georgia
Carole Pearson, Treasurer, accountant and resident of Rome, Georgia
Chad Johnfroe, Secretary, director of information systems Stanton Carpet Corp. and resident of Rome, Georgia
Billy Grant, business owner, landscape architect and resident of Cedartown, Georgia
Steve Hale, web developer and resident of Cave Spring, Georgia
John Husser, Jr., attorney and resident of Rome, Georgia
Carolyn Landrem, president of the Weiss Lake Improvement Association and resident of Centre, Alabama
James Lossick, owner/operator Cedar Creek Park and resident of Dallas, Georgia
Mary Lucchese, retired physician and resident of Rome, Georgia
Carol McNavish, community volunteer and resident of Woodstock, 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
Pam Young, clinical coordinator Redmond Regional Medical Center 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
Coosa River Basin Initiative
408 Broad Street
Rome, Georgia 30161
Phone: 706-232-CRBI (2724)