Cahaba River Society to Honor Water-Smart Projects and Conservation Partners

The Cahaba River Society will be honoring water-smart projects and partners for Cahaba conservation at its Annual Meeting on Thursday, February 7, 5:30 – 8:00 pm., at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. The public is invited. The meeting, titled “Saving the Cahaba Together,” celebrates the strength of collaborative partnerships.

An evening highlight will be the 7th Annual Watershed Conservation Development Awards, recognizing 3 water-smart projects: the Dunn Building Company Office;  B.L. Harbert International Office & Warehouse; and Children’s of Alabama Expansion Project ~ The Benjamin Russell Hospital for Children and Central Energy Plant Improvements.

CRS’s Watershed Conservation Development Awards recognize projects in our region that conserve water resources through environmental site design, Low Impact Development (LID) stormwater practices, water harvesting and reuse, drinking water efficiency, and watershed restoration. “These model development and redevelopment projects prove the feasibility, cost-effectiveness, and value of water-smart building practices to the triple bottom line – people, planet and prosperity,” said Beth Stewart, Executive Director. The awards honor the stewardship commitment of firms that invest in these solutions, the government leaders who support them, and the capability of project team members to deliver quality water-smart development.

This year the projects span new development, urban infill, and urban redevelopment. “CRS is very grateful for the leadership commitment of two major construction companies, Dunn and Harbert, for low impact stormwater management,” said Stewart. “They have demonstrated that innovative stormwater practices can protect water quality, conserve natural creeks, and create a beautiful development that meets both economic and environmental goals. We hope these model projects encourage more widespread use of these practices by their clients.”

The Children’s of Alabama Expansion Project proves the feasibility of LID stormwater practices in an urban redevelopment setting and also links water and energy efficiency for substantial savings in water, energy, and money. Technologies used in the hospital expansion and Central Energy Plant help Children’s save more than 9 million gallons of water and nearly 4 million pounds of CO2 each year – enough water to meet the needs of about 241 homes and the energy equivalent of taking 329 cars off the road. “Water and energy are connected,” said Stewart. “When we save water, we save energy, and also save money on water, power and sewer bills.”

Several collaborative partnerships will be highlighted at the meeting. The keynote, “Leadership for Collaboration,” will be by ALDOT’s Barry Fagan, who leads environmental coordination for the agency. Barry will describe how ALDOT is collaborating with CRS and others, aiming to become a leader for state-of-the-art stormwater management.

The Cahaba Vision Award will thank CRS’s Cahaba Blueway Project partners: Alabama Innovation Engine (IE), The Nature Conservancy, Cayenne Creative, Douglas Barrett, and the National Park Service Recreation Trails and Conservation Assistance Program. IE’s director, Matt Leavell, will introduce the Cahaba Blueway project, a local/state/national partnership that will turn a dream into reality: a series of public recreation sites up and down the River, linked with tourism attractions in Cahaba communities.

CRS will also celebrate the partner organizations that spearheaded the reauthorization of Forever Wild with its River Advocate of the Year Award, recognizing Alabamians for Forever Wild, The Nature Conservancy, Conservation Alabama, Audubon Society, Alabama Wildlife Federation, Ducks Unlimited, and the Freshwater Land Trust.

Other award-winning partners and organizations include:

Lifetime Achievement – Walter Sansing

Cahaba Conservationist of the Year – Paul Johnson, Alabama Biodiversity Center

Small Business Friend of the Year – George Sarris, The Fish Market

Corporate Friend of the Year – Coca-Cola Bottling Company United, Inc.

Special Tributes – Sonja Cobb, Mayo Holloway

Volunteer of the Year – Umair Khan,  Lisa Buck

Journalist of the Year – Thomas Spencer

CRS Board Service Award – Eleanor DelBene, Scot Duncan, Ben Erdreich, Bob Nesbitt, Dick Pigford, Robbey Stanford

President’s Award – James Barton

Resolutions of Appreciation – Do Dah Day, CRS Interns – April Garcia, Jessica Colburn, Katie Schultz

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