Clean Water Grant To Address Tombigbee Riverbank Failure
For years, property owners along the banks of the lower Tombigbee River have watched their property slip away — literally. Massive oak trees, roads, boat landings and lake homes all have fallen victim to the currents of the Tombigbee. Now, landowners may have a tool to help identify the source and hopefully eliminate further damage.The Alabama Clean Water Partnership (ACWP) has received a $30,000 grant to address riverbank failure along the lower Tombigbee. The failure has affected river habitat, caused navigational concerns and significant property loss, according to Allison Jenkins, statewide coordinator for the ACWP. The ACWP is a coordinated, stakeholder-driven effort to restore and protect the state’s river basins in accordance with the goals of the Clean Water Act.”Choctaw County Farmers Federation Board Members Gary Fortenberry and Leo Allen expressed concerns about the riverbank erosion to the state organization several years ago,” said Federation Governmental Affairs Assistant Director Paul Pinyan. “The issue was brought to the attention of the ACWP during public meetings that were held in conjunction with the development of a Tombigbee River Basin Management Plan. The two groups teamed up to arrange a tour of the damaged area and pursued the grant last September.”The Laura Jane Musser Fund of Minnesota, an environmental and rural initiative organization, funded the grant. The project began in March and will be administered by the Alabama-Tombigbee Clean Water Partnership.”Through the grant, interested stakeholders will be brought together in a neutral setting to be educated regarding related issues from the various perspectives involved,” Jenkins said. “A future plan of action will be developed through the identification, evaluation and ranking of options and the mutual agreement of involved stakeholders, resulting in water quality improvement and the reduction of bitter feelings of affected property owners.”Vivian W. Paul, president of the Clarke County Farmers Federation, is among the landowners whose property has been eroded by the river, although she said land further upstream and on the Choctaw County side of the river has been damaged to a greater extent.”We have about two miles of riverfront property near the Coffeeville Lock and Dam,” Paul said. “We’ve seen entire oak trees — big trees — just fall over into the river after the bank was eaten away. I wish we could find a way to keep the land from washing away — but if there’s an answer, I don’t know what it is.”Jenkins said the grant would help determine how much land has been eroded and will seek ways to address further property damage and sediment issues.Pinyan said determining how much land has been lost to the river may prove helpful to property owners because many are still paying property taxes on land they no longer have.Interested persons should call Allison Jenkins, statewide coordinator of the ACWP at 205-266-6285 for further information.