WWALS Watershed Coalition advocates for conservation and stewardship of the
watersheds in south Georgia and north Florida through education, awareness, environmental monitoring, and citizen activities.
WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. (WWALS) is an IRS 501(c)(3) educational not-for-profit charity.
As of June 4th 2015, WWALS Watershed Coalition is the WATERKEEPER® Affiliate for the upper Suwannee River basin, including its tributaries the Alapaha, Withlacoochee, and Little River, per approval from WATERKEEPER® ALLIANCE. This affiliation may help with raising funds to hire an Executive Director and with WWALS’ advocacy for its watersheds.
WWALS has three main goals that solidify its vision and mission.
Many other organizations already promote paddling, swimming, fishing, birding, and other water-related activities hereabouts, as does WWALS for fun and education. WWALS exists to assist positive changes and to resist invasive problems, using strategies such as environmental monitoring and tactics such as outings and events in that advocacy.
WWALS is fortunate in not having big single-point pollution problems such as plague watershed organizations on single large rivers. Thus we do not have to spend most of our time on preservation and protection, and we can spend more on conservation: connecting our rich local history with new paddlers on the rivers and lakes and streams watching what’s going on, fishing, swimming, boating, and enjoying our marvelous blackwater rivers and exotic vegetation and wildlife.
The purpose of WWALS is not to preserve everything exactly as it always was, for example back at the time of the Alapaha River Trail from the 1970s. Many things have already changed, and conservation may involve adding new things, such as the new, extended, Alapaha River Water Trail.
Our problems are more widespread. having more to do with invasive species (some still being sold in local nurseries), waterway neglect (dams of fallen trees due to erosion ending up causing flooding), agricultural runoff (erosion dirt and pesticides), forestry runoff (due to clearcutting and pesticiding of undergrowth), wetlands destruction (cypress swamp clearing for wood use, agriculture, or subdivisions), and sprawling development (excessive impermeable surface causing runoff along with land clearing removing runoff barriers), leading to such problems as Valdosta wastewater overflows. Such problems won’t get solved by suing some big plant, and many of them aren’t pollution at all in the traditional sense.
Conservation doesn’t happen by itself, and WWALS is people taking on stewardship to deal with the pervasive environmental changes people have caused. Our waters support our recreation, agriculture, economy, and our very lives, so we must be stewards of our waters.
Stewardship includes resisting invaders such as the new pipelines, and possibly increasing agricultural land purchases by corporations far away, as well as older invasions such as mercury in our rivers from coal plants.
WWALS practices stewardship beyond protection into conservation: proactive participation in creation or restoration of new ways such as promoting solar power to remove any excuse for such obsolete pipelines or coal plants.
WWALS composed its name as an acronym of some of its better-known rivers, but it is not limited to its river banks. WWALS encompasses the entire watersheds of the Withlacoochee, Alapaha, and upper Suwannee Rivers and all their tributaries, as well as those parts of the Floridan Aquifer in our watersheds.
Thus issues such as wastewater overflows, pipelines, water extraction, or fracking anywhere in WWALS’ watersheds are of concern, whether or not they ever reach any of our rivers.
WWALS approaches its goals with strategies that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timed (SMART).
Youth, students, and adults, too.
Map encroachment, water quality, invasive species, pesticide run off, etc., and share information.
Outreach to schools to teach students about watershed health and science.
To accomplish its goals and strategies, WWALS pursues some more near-term objectives, such as the establishment of an Alapaha River Water Trail, soon to be followed by a Withlacoochee River Water Trail. For example, the websites, maps, databases, and brochures of the water trails serve as repositories for the mapping strategy and records of environmental measurements.
WWALS is involved in watershed mapping of floodplains by Army Corps of Engineers in our watershed areas.
WWALS assists neighboring watersheds, for example investigating how the Waycross superfund site mess relates to WWALS watersheds.
WWALS promotes citizen participation in many activities as tactics to support its objectives.
In addition to ongoing social media, brochures, and traditional public relations, WWALS sometimes writes briefs such as to assist a landowner defending against a pipeline or co-signs comments to assist neighboring watersheds evaluating a road project.
WWALS organizes frequent paddle and hiking outings, cleanups, seminars, water quality testing certification, and other events for citizen participation to support our objectives and strategies to advocate conservation and stewardship of our watersheds.
See our brochure.