A debate over what may be the single biggest threat to the health of the Coosa River system—dams and new water supply reservoirs—is on tap for the Coosa River Basin Initiative’s annual membership meeting, Jan. 30, at Georgia Northwestern Technical College’s Rome campus.


Four dam-building proposals are currently under consideration in Paulding, Dawson and Lumpkin counties in the Etowah River Basin. Collectively, these water supply projects could permanently divert more than 125 million gallons a day from the Etowah River to meet water needs in metro Atlanta communities.


Three experts in water planning and reservoirs will engage in a panel discussion, with opportunity for those attending to ask their own questions.


“The health of our rivers is at stake so this is a chance for the public to learn more about these plans and the possible repercussions,” said Joe Cook, Executive Director and Riverkeeper at CRBI.


Rome City Manager John Bennett, who serves as chairman for the Coosa-North Georgia Water Planning Council will be joined on the panel by Gil Rogers, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center which has led legal battles against reservoir projects and Scott Cole, an attorney and reservoir consultant with Hall, Booth, Smith & Slover, PC. who has been involved in the planning and construction of several dams in North Georgia.


The meeting kicks off in the College’s “H Building” at 6:30 p.m. with refreshments; the program begins at 7 p.m. and includes the panel discussion as well as the 2011 Annual Report, CRBI’s annual volunteer and supporter awards and a preview of 2012 activities.


CRBI will recognize Jonathan Bridges of Rome as the Ray Kelley Volunteer of the Year. Bridges has served as a CRBI volunteer for more than eight years and in 2011 played important supporting roles at each of CRBI’s four major fundraising events. The Volunteer of the Year award is named in honor of the late Ray Kelley of Gaylesville, Alabama who was one of the founding members of CRBI.


Jamie Taylor of Rome will be recognized as the Water Monitor of the Year. Taylor has served as CRBI’s volunteer boat captain before recently joining CRBI’s staff in that position. During 2011, he collected and analyzed more than 130 water samples from Rome’s rivers and streams in 2011 and helped CRBI rank in the top five organizations in Georgia’s Adopt-A-Stream program.   


Marie Lewis, a teacher at Coosa High School in Rome, will be recognized with CRBI’s Environmental Educator Award. Lewis believes in getting her biology students out of the classroom and into the outdoors. For the past two years she has partnered with CRBI to get some of her students on local rivers through paddle trips and clean ups.


Redmond Regional Medical Center in Rome will be recognized as CRBI’s Corporate Citizen. Redmond Regional Medical Center served as the lead sponsor for CRBI’s 7 Hills 3 Rivers Adventure Race, fielded a team in the WATERFEST Canoe Tug-O-War contest, sponsored a “Redmond on the River” day and its employees lent many volunteers hours to CRBI events. Redmond also organized a “pill drop” event to help local citizens dispose of out-of-date and unused medications properly, keeping them out of local rivers, streams and water systems.


The Annual Report will highlight the organization’s activities in 2011 and provide a brief preview of the year to come. In 2012, CRBI will celebrate its 20th year as a watershed protection organization.


For additional information and directions to the college visit:



CRBI is a 501c3 non profit organization and member of the international Waterkeeper Alliance. Its mission is to inform and empower citizens to protect, preserve and restore North America’s most biologically diverse river basin.


FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT JOE COOK AT 706-232-2724 or email at jcook@coosa.org