PLATINUM2023

COOSA RIVERKEEPER INC.

Protecting Our River Since 2010

Birmingham, AL   |  www.coosariver.org

Mission

To protect, restore, and promote the Coosa River and its tributaries in Alabama.

Notes from the nonprofit

Thank you for your interest in our work & caring about the Coosa!

Ruling year info

2010

Executive Director and Riverkeeper

Justinn Overton

Main address

102-B Croft Street

Birmingham, AL 35242 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

27-3430200

NTEE code info

Water Resource, Wetlands Conservation and Management (C32)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (C01)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

To fulfill our mission of protecting, promoting, and restoring the Coosa River, our organization has developed four core programs to engage the many people who live, work, visit and recreate on the Coosa River, its tributaries and lakes. Through the Fish Guide, Swim Guide, Riverkeeper Patrol, and Education & Outreach programs, Coosa Riverkeeper encourages everyone to enjoy the river, lakes, and “skinny water” or creeks, while providing information about water quality conditions and fish consumption advisories for both sport and leisure. Our organization works to answer the simple questions “is it safe to swim?”, “are the fish safe to eat?”, and “what can I do to make the Coosa healthier for my community?” as a means to ensure the public is aware of issues that impact recreation, public health, and property value.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Riverkeeper Program

The core program our organization is founded on is that of the Riverkeeper. The Riverkeeper is a citizen advocate who monitors the river, responds to citizen complaints, conducts research, educates the public and performs many other tasks necessary to help improve the Coosa River. Getting out on the water lets us see and analyze issues first hand and make informed statements and decisions. But we can’t do it alone. We need your help to carry out this great task. That’s why we depend on our members who fish, boat or live on the river to spread the word about our work and help us protect the Coosa.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Fish Guide is all about fishing on the Coosa River. Check out our interactive map that will help you find marinas, bait shops, boat ramps and the like. It’ll be a gateway for you to explore the Coosa by line. We’ll also incorporate some great info about the unique species of fish found in the Coosa, and alert you to a few things to watch out for when fishing.

Surprisingly few people know that there are fish consumption advisories on the Coosa River. There are 35 fish consumption advisories on the Coosa in Alabama as a result of PCB and mercury contamination. Though it is not illegal to eat fish from the areas with advisories, it is strongly discouraged.

Population(s) Served
Adults

The goal of this project is to provide YOU with information about water quality conditions at popular recreation sites on the river. The most common question we get from our members is “Is it safe to swim?” Before this project, there was hardly any water quality data at these swimmin’ holes on the Coosa. Now there is! We’re also creating a database of baseline water quality conditions that can be tracked over the long term to analyze trends. In the event we spot problem areas through our water quality monitoring projects, we can focus in on areas in need of restoration projects and ultimately track how well implementing those projects improves water quality. We are a data-driven organization; data helps us focus on the issues that we can direct our limited resources to have the most impact. Without this program, there would be a huge gap in water quality data on the Coosa River.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Coosa Riverkeeper works to educate the public through presentations, building meaningful relationships with the stakeholders, and developing content for print material and online to highlight the issues that face the Coosa River.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Where we work

Accreditations


Since 2017

Standards for Excellence 2019

Awards

Best New Organization 2011

Alabama Rivers Alliance

Affiliations & memberships

Standards for Excellence 2021

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of Water Quality Alerts Issued

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults

Related Program

Swim Guide

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

This metric is the number of high and moderately high E.coli alerts and low dissolved oxygen alerts issued through our Swim Guide program each summer.

Number of Sites Tested for Swim Guide

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults

Related Program

Swim Guide

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

This is the number of popular recreation sites our organization monitors during the peak recreation season each year.

Number of Riverkeeper Patrols

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults

Related Program

Riverkeeper Program

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Through the Riverkeeper Patrol Program, we monitor water quality and pollution by boat, on foot, by truck, and through aerial patrols provided by Southwings.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

We are a citizen-based nonprofit organization with goals to improve water quality, protect valuable habitat, and promote recreation and public health along the Coosa River in Alabama. We monitor polluters and their pollution permits, patrol the waterways, educate the public, and advocate on behalf of the river.

We supplement our passion for the river with science and an understanding of policy. When there's a lack of data or information about an issue on the river, we go collect samples or conduct research. In an age where major decisions made by lawmakers are based mostly in politics and not in science, we speak up for our river and ensure it is protected from greed and ignorance. We take a watershed approach; we don't just look at what's happening on the lakes, we look at what's happening on all the creeks because it all matters in the scope of a healthy river. Because the Middle and Lower Coosa River Basins in which we work are so expansive at 5,000 square miles, we prioritize our work based on the most urgent issues where we believe our approach to conservation will be most effective. The data that we generate through our research projects, like Water Quality Monitoring, help guide us to the restoration and conservation efforts that will have the greatest impact.

Using a variety of watercraft, including the Oive II, our staff Riverkeeper patrols 5 lakes and dozens of creeks in order to document both pollution and beauty and stay in tune with what's happening on the river. We also depend on our members and the general public to report pollution when they see it.We collect water quality samples and analyze them in the lab we have set up in our office, and occasionally at a professional lab. We test the river for temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, turbidity and E. coli, among others, and post the results to our website for anyone to see. When we discover an issue, we seek to resolve it. That can be anything from working with state and federal agencies to remove a dam that is eroding a citizen's stream-bank and blocking fish migration to filing legal action against a permitted polluter who refuses to comply with their pollution permit. To date, we have filed legal action over thousands of violations of the Clean Water Act.

In 2017:
*Coosa Riverkeeper patrolled the river 40+ times, reaching 672,000 folks through our Swim Guide program
*Launched the revamped Fish Guide program
*Petitioned for sewage spill right-to-know resulting in electronic notification system
*Successfully advocated for stricter bacteria limits
*Earned Standards for Excellence accreditation
*Named "2017 Group of the Year" by Alabama Rivers Alliance
*Added 274 new members in one year

In 2018:
* Patrolled the river 50+ times
* We started our citizen science program monitoring temperature in the river for fish spawn
* Announced the transition of our Staff Riverkeeper
* We monitored water quality for 18 weeks at 26 issuing 69 alerts total.

In 2019:
* Patrolled the river over 55+ times
* We added two new staff members, an AmeriCorps Patrol member and Program Manager.
* We monitored water quality for 18 weeks at 28 issuing 51 alerts total.

In 2020:
* Celebrated our 10th Anniversary
* Conducted 55+ patrols and responded to over 91 citizen complaints
* Monitored water quality at 30 sites for 16 weeks, issuing 120 water quality alerts.
* Surveyed 150+ anglers to better understand their fishing habits and knowledge of the fish consumption advisories

In 2021:
*Hired a Program Director & expanded our AmeriCorps program
*Monitored 44 sites for 15 weeks, issuing 158 water quality alerts
*Invested in a new patrol boat, The Olive II, and a new patrol truck
*Posted 50+ fish consumption advisory signs around the state, including additional 20 on boat ramps on the Coosa

In 2022:
* Monitored 50 sites for 17 weeks, issuing over 200 water quality alerts
* Filed two legal actions to hold polluters accountable the watershed
* Coosa River named the Fifth Most Endangered River in the US
* Piloted new community engagement and education work
* Started a nutrient monitoring program

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback, We ask the people who gave us feedback how well they think we responded

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    The people we serve tell us they find data collection burdensome

Financials

COOSA RIVERKEEPER INC.
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

COOSA RIVERKEEPER INC.

Board of directors
as of 01/28/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Chuck Graham

Cecil Bostany

Warren Averett

Kathleen Kirkpatrick

Sustainability Consultant

Josh Tidwell

Big Wills Outfitters

Lawrence Myatt

Gluten Free Bytes

Kristin Trowbridge

Beauty Counter

Hays Latimer

Pearson & Associates

Doug Morrison

IBS Solutions

David Smith

Siemens

Beau Beard

Doctor of Chiropractor

Carrie Machen

GadRock

A.J. Mercer

CPA

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 12/10/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 12/10/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.