Renew Our Rivers is a volunteer program that removes debris from rivers and other waterways throughout the Southeast. Started by an employee in 1999 as a local cleanup of the Coosa River around Alabama Power's Gadsden Steam Plant, the program has grown to include a year-round schedule of cleanups for the entire Coosa, Tallapoosa, and Black Warrior river systems in Alabama, the upper Coosa in Georgia, and other waterways in watersheds in Georgia, Mississippi, and Florida. Fact Sheet (PDF 144KB)
On April 17, 2009, Southern Company employees, with local community members, surpassed 10 million pounds of trash removed or recycled in Renew Our Rivers events. Now exceeding 11.5 million pounds removed, Renew Our Rivers is winner of over 20 prestigious awards, including:2011
Although Renew Our Rivers has more scheduled cleanups and participants than ever, less debris is being removed. That can only mean one thing: rivers we've visited in the past are cleaner.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Gulf of Mexico Program chose Alabama Power's Plant Barry for a Gulf Guardian Award in September 2009. Plant Barry won third place in the business category for its participation in the Renew Our Rivers program. Plant Barry has participated in the Renew Our Rivers program for five years. More »
Five Star Restoration provides grants and technical support for community-based education and outreach projects in riparian (land-bordering waterways), coastal, or wetland areas. Southern Companyincluding its four operating companiesserve as the Southern region lead corporate sponsor.
Wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems in the world, comparable to rainforests and coral reefs in biodiversity. Wetlands play an integral role in the ecology of the watershed. In addition to providing habitat for reptiles, fish, waterfowl, mammals, plants, and more, wetlands absorb excess nutrients, sediment, and other pollutants before they reach rivers, lakes, and other water bodies.
When rivers overflow, wetlands help to absorb and slow floodwaters, which can alleviate property damage and loss, and can even save lives. They are great spots for fishing, canoeing, hiking, and bird-watching, and they make wonderful outdoor classrooms for people of all ages.
Current Five Star partners include the Environmental Protection Agency, National Association of Counties, and Wildlife Habitat Council. The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation administers this program. Southern Company committed $1.92 million in matching funds over eight years (through 2013) for projects in our region that foster natural resource stewardship.
Organizations receiving grants under the program must then match the grant, thus resulting in at least a $400,000 impact each year in the company's four-state retail service area. Additionally, $40,000/year will support the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's management of this program.
Fish like the security of rocks or trees on lake and sea bottoms. Southern Company subsidiaries, with local business and communities, are recycling materials to create fish habitats across the Southeast.
Off Little Cumberland Island, worn or cracked concrete Georgia Power utility poles are broken up, barged 3 to 55 miles offshore, and sunk at 22 sites in about 40 feet of water. The new rocky bottom quickly becomes home sweet home to marine life and stays active for hundreds of years. Local fishing clubs have paid for the transportation.
Christmas trees and branches provide similar shelter for fresh water fish in Alabama Power hydro reservoirs. Over 53,000 trees have been dropped in a program started in 1993 with the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society. The sites are mapped for fishermen.
Southern Company sponsors the River Scout exhibit at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, where visitors can experience the diversity of river life in the South underwater without getting wet. Seeing the fish up close helps emphasize the need to understand, respect, and protect river life.