Coosa Riverkeeper sets Lake Mitchell focus

Published 2:51 pm Thursday, April 21, 2022

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Editor’s note: This article was originally published in Coosa Currents. Copies are available at The Clanton Advertiser Office 1109 Seventh Street N. 

By JOYANNA LOVE | Managing Editor

The Coosa Riverkeeper nonprofit has recently completed its three-year plan for preservation and monitoring efforts.

The plan creates objectives to continue existing programs and expand them. The process lets those who have invested in the organization know future goals, while getting input from the public and finding out what they are interested in.

Justinn Overton, executive director of Coosa Riverkeeper, said Lake Mitchell will be a focus in 2022 for the organization’s Riverkeeper Patrol Program.

“We have decided on an annual basis to choose a particular reservoir on the Coosa where we can focus on examining not only from the water but also taking flight with drones and then following up with hikes and various driving around the watershed,” Overton said. “We want to focus on permit holders in the Lake Mitchell area.”

While Lake Mitchell is not as developed as some of the other reservoirs along the Coosa, Overton said “there are many important species in the Lake Mitchell drainage area that are incredibly special.”

The focus will include keeping the public aware of concerns through education campaigns. An event is planned for this summer to help people explore Lake Mitchell and its biodiversity.

Safety on the river related to wakeboarding and environment concerns around logging near the lake will also be focuses during the emphasis on Lake Mitchell.

“It is a unique opportunity for us to focus on Mitchell, and I am really looking forward to it,” Overton said. “It is a very dear place to me.”

Coosa Riverkeeper’s Swim Guide, which gives recommendations on whether it is safe to swim in an area, will be expanded to include more locations for water quality monitoring. Plans are in the works to collect this data for more weeks starting this summer.

Overton said the group will also begin monitoring algae that could create hazardous conditions.

“The Coosa River has a high concentration of nutrient pollution, especially in the upstream, like above … the Mitchell area, so we believe that adding this particular monitoring will help us not only collect data for scientists that are studying the effects of harmful algae blooms and the nutrient pollution issue on the Coosa, but also allow us to make water quality alerts when necessary when we are starting to see any critter, if you will, that could be potential of a harmful algae bloom,” Overton said.

The Fish Guide program, which focuses on keeping the public aware of whether the fish are safe to eat, will continue to be a focus.

“We are going to start hosting free fishing clinics and focus on educating young folks about fishing as well as those fish consumption advisories and hosting some town hall meetings in areas of the watershed where those fish consumption advisories are present,” Overton said.

Near Chilton County, there is an advisory in place for Lay Lake for polychlorinated biphenyls levels.

Advisories are released by the Alabama Department of Health each year related to mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls levels.

The full three-year plan is available at