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Big Quack Over Proposed Dam

Duck River Dam Fight Continues in Alabama

The Duck River—one of the last free-flowing rivers in Alabama—may be dammed if Cullman city officials have their way. The city of Cullman, Alabama has proposed the dam, citing water shortages and prolonged drought in northern Alabama.

Environmental and recreational groups have appealed the dam permit in the northern district of Alabama federal court. A hearing is tentatively slated for October. Meanwhile, city officials hope to break ground on the dam this summer.

The city of Cullman has been slow to adopt water conservation measures, even during the record-setting drought of the past two years. They have also resisted alternative proposals, which include drawing water from Smith Lake or the Tennessee River, re-commissioning water from Lake George, purchasing water from other water districts, and water conservation.

The dam would cost an estimated $59 million, and would cause a 53 to 83 percent increase in the water bills of local residents. The surrounding county of Cullman, Alabama, is not supporting the dam, but the city of Cullman plans to proceed with dam construction plans and land purchasing.

The appeal filed by Alabama Rivers Alliance and other outdoor groups is based on the proposed dam’s violations of the Clean Water Act and National Environmental Policy Act. While the lawsuit is pending, public opposition to the dam is one of the best hopes of keeping the Duck flowing wild and free, says Alabama Rivers Alliance program director April Hall.

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