What is the Coosa River Basin Initiative?
CRBI is a 501c3 grassroots environmental organization based in Rome, Georgia with the mission of informing and empowering citizens so that they may become involved in the process of creating a clean, healthy and economically viable Coosa River Basin. Since 1992, our staff, board and members have served as advocates for the wise stewardship of the natural resources of the Upper Coosa River basin, or watershed, which stretches from southeastern Tennessee and north central Georgia to Weiss Dam in Northeast Alabama. This includes the Coosa River, the Etowah and Oostanaula rivers and the tributaries of these waterways as well as the land drained by these streams and the air that surrounds this land area.
A member of the international Waterkeeper Alliance, CRBI is also known as the Upper Coosa Riverkeeper. As such, we work to enforce the Clean Water Act, by monitoring pollution and polluters. When pollution problems are identified we use all means necessary, including legal action, to correct these problems.
As a member of the Georgia Water Coalition and Alabama Rivers Alliance, we work to influence water resource policy in both Georgia and Alabama so that clean and plentiful water is available today and for future generations. We work in four program areas: advocacy, education, water monitoring and restoration. Our two staff members, 15-member Board of Directors and 6-member Advisory Board direct the efforts of CRBI’s more than 3000 members.
View a 2-minute video introduction to CRBI and its mission:
Video production courtesy of Susan Berry and Isee Marketing Group. E-mail Susan at firstname.lastname@example.org
After a 1991 meeting in Keith, Georgia with a diverse consortium of citizens fighting local battles over everything from landfills to chipmills, Rome businessman, Jerry Brown, developed the vision of a regional organization that would fight environmental abuses in the entire Coosa River Basin, and CRBI was soon born. Its first success was stopping a landfill sited upstream from Weiss Lake.
CRBI originally operated through the work of dedicated volunteers in a cramped office in the back of Brown’s business. From these humble beginnings, CRBI has grown to become a visible presence in the decision-making processes concerning the region’s natural resources.
Today, CRBI occupies a Broad Street office in downtown Rome’s business district. The organization employs a professional staff of two people who coordinate volunteers and work with an 18-member board of directors to design and implement advocacy, education, water monitoring, restoration and organizational development programs. More than 3000 members support the organization with their money and volunteer services.
Since its founding in 1992, CRBI’s advocacy, education, restoration and water monitoring programs have helped improve water quality in the Coosa River Basin and have helped citizens better understand water resource issues. The organization’s major accomplishments include:
Forcing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to uphold the Clean Water Act through a lawsuit requiring the EPA to set Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) on our impaired waterways. TMDLs limit the amount of non-point source pollution allowed to enter polluted waterways.
Stopping a plan to “transfer” metro Atlanta sewage to the Coosa River Basin by working successfully with state legislators forcing metro Atlanta communities to rethink their growth strategies.
Stopping the dumping of indigo dye in the Chattooga River by carpet manufacturers and the improper land application of wastewater sludge in Dalton.
Stopping a hot water discharge on Smith-Cabin Creek in Floyd County by Temple-Inland Paperboard & Packaging.
Defeating water legislation that would have allowed Georgia’s water to be bought and sold to the highest bidder. CRBI worked closely with other environmental groups throughout Georgia in the Georgia Water Coalition to keep Georgia’s water as a public resource.
Training hundreds of citizens to monitor rivers and creeks throughout the basin. Citizens collect data which is compiled by CRBI, the City of Rome, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, and Alabama Water Watch. Trends in water quality are noted and any unusual findings are researched further to ensure no illegal activities are occurring that affect water quality.
Educating thousands of Coosa River Basin citizens in classrooms, civic meetings, public forums, workshops, print and broadcast media and in our quarterly newsletter, Mainstream.
JESSE DEMONBREUN-CHAPMAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR & RIVERKEEPER
Jesse joined CRBI in December 2016 as Executive Director and Riverkeeper. He previously served two and a half years at Ogeechee Riverkeeper based in Savannah where he worked as the organization’s outreach coordinator. Prior to moving to Savannah, he served as a director at the Boys and Girls Club of Northwest Georgia for four years and also served for a short time on the CRBI Board of Directors. He is a 2008 graduate of Berry College where he studied Biology and English. He lives in Rome with his wife Ashley and daughter Lilliana.
JOE COOK, ADVOCACY & COMMUNICATION COORDINATOR
Joe has served CRBI as a board member since 1999, and began full time work as Executive Director and Riverkeeper in January 2005. In January 2014, he started his position as advocacy and communication coordinator. He is a nature/landscape photographer and writer whose work has been published in numerous national and regional magazines and is featured in five books, Wildflowers of the Appalachian Trail, Wildflowers of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains, River Song-A Journey Down the Chattahoochee and Apalachicola Rivers, Etowah River User’s Guide and Chattahoochee River User’s Guide. He has studied and reported extensively on water resource issues in Georgia since 1994. He and his daughter and her mother spent 26 days canoeing the 160-mile length of the Etowah River in 2002. In 2007, he was the recipient of a national River Hero award from River Network. He is a 1988 graduate of Berry College where he studied communications and agriculture.
SHIRA KERCE, MEMBERSHIP & EVENTS COORDINATOR
Shira joined CRBI in September 2013 as its part-time membership coordinator, and in January 2014 was given the new, full-time position as Membership & Events Coordinator. A 2009 graduate of Berry College where she studied English, she continued her studies at Kennesaw State University and earned a masters of arts in professional writing in 2013. A life-long resident of Rome, she came to CRBI after serving as a communications professional at Kennesaw State University. She has also taught English at Georgia Northwestern Technical College.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Nina Lovel, President, webmaster/data management coordinator and resident of Rome, Georgia
Monica Sheppard, Vice President, graphic designer and resident of Rome, GA
Barbara Lamb, Treasurer, retired CPA and resident of Kennesaw, Georgia
Katie Owens, Secretary, field manager for The Nature Conservancy and resident of Rome, Georgia
Blair Carter, engineer and resident of Rome, Georgia
Doc Kibler, principle at Decision Marketing Consulting, president of Big Cedar Creek Farm, manager at Coosa River Mitigation Resource and resident of Cave Spring, Georgia
James Lossick, owner/operator Cedar Creek Park and resident of Dallas, Georgia
Terrell Shaw, educator and resident of Rome, Georgia
Amos Tuck, financial advisor and resident of Rome, Georgia
Board of Advisors
Bill Harbin, radiologist, Rome, Georgia
Jerry Jennings, professor at Berry College and former Floyd County Commissioner, Rome, Georgia
Bill McLemore, certified public accountant, Rome, Georgia
Todd Carroll, attorney, Rome, Georgia
Coosa River Basin Initiative
5 Broad Street
Rome, Georgia 30161
Phone: 706-232-CRBI (2724)