Image from Black Warrior Riverkeeper
The Birmingham Water Works has a drinking water intake on Mulberry Fork along the Shepard Bend, located in southeastern Walker County, AL, just southeast of the town of Cordoba. This intakes provides drinking water to 200,000 customers.
Drummond Company, Inc. plans to open a 1,773 acre coal mine that's approximately 1,000 feet from this intake. The Alabama Department of Environmental Management, an organization that one would think would pull the plug on such things, gave the company the go-ahead after its decision was upheld by the Environmental Management Commission.
This being the great state of Alabama and all, there's no telling how much grease was put on those skids. Or if the decision was designed as a "fuck you" of sorts to the city by a well-connected Good Ol' Boy network.
The Birmingham Water Works Board is in thorough opposition to the mine, for obvious reasons. Mine effluent dumped into the river and into the intake requires more thorough filtering, translating into higher costs for BWW and its customers. A number of other groups, including the Black Warrior Riverkeeper, is also in firm opposition against the mine.
The decision for Drummond to get cracking on building the mine rests on leasing or purchasing land currently held by the University of Alabama. Without that land, chances of the mine being built become slim to none. Hopefully, this adventure in environmental disaster can grind to a halt before any serious damage is done.