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Mission & History

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 to protect, preserve and restore North America's most biologically diverse 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.

Waterkeeper logo

A member of the internationalWaterkeeper 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.

Georgia Water Coalition LogoAs a member of the Georgia Water Coalition andAlabama 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 two-minute introduction to CRBI and its mission:


Video production courtesy of Susan Berry and Isee Marketing Group. E-mail Susan at


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.

CRBI Patrol BoatToday, 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 an 15-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.
  • 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 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


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