Submitted by Tommy Fulton, Contributing Editor
Call to Order: The meeting was called to order by John Dukes.
Kathy Miller gave the invocation, followed by Tommy Blankenship, who led us in song and the Pledge.
Introduction of Guests & Visitors: Tommy Blankenship introduced our guests along with visiting Rotarians.
Jeff Luther introduced our student guest.
Announcements: Graduate Day will be May 17th. On May 22nd, the Coastal Alabama Foundation will be honoring Ann Bedsole. The District Annual Conference will be held on 6/7-6/10 at the Beau Rivage. There will be a club social at the Cheese Cottage on Tuesday, June 19th.
Program: Tom McGehee introduced our speaker, Casi (KC) Callaway, who is the Executive Director for the Mobile Baykeepers. She spoke about the threats to our health in the Mobile/Baldwin area.
The Mobile Baykeepers have been an effective group in our area for more than 21 years. Ms. Callaway said that one of the main reasons is that they endeavor to do research first, and then provide the answers to our challenges. They make every effort to engage the entire community in a common cause…clean water and clean air.
The main focus of the Mobile Baykeepers is to foster responsible growth, track infrastructure, educate and engage our community through clean-ups, collaboration and monitoring.
Ms. Callaway stated the 2017 was the worst year for sewage spills in our area in recent history. The causes are many, but the main challenges include rain, blockages, power outages and line breaks. She featured the major challenges with Daphne Utilities. They have filed suit against Daphne to counteract the lack of disclosure of those spills.
The Mobile Baykeepers are also engaged with Alabama Power, with whom they have had a great relationship over many years. The challenge we face now involves the coal ash storage areas which were originally built in 1965. The ponds are full of toxic heavy metals and could easily be breached, causing major damage to our delta/river system. She explained that there are two main options for attacking this problem. One is to “cap-in-place” the existing ash, and the more desirable option of excavating the ash and sending it to more appropriate facilities, away from our watershed.
Alabama Power has been fined $1.25 million for coal ash groundwater pollution, and has had 94 violations since 2016. They have chosen to “cap-in-place” for now. This is not a final decision. Mobile Baykeepers have been monitoring on a regular basis, and has found substantial ash infiltration. Ms. Callaway encouraged the members to ask Alabama Power, and our governmental leaders to act in the community’s interest and use the option to remove the ash, rather than capping it in place.
After a question and answer session, John Dukes thanked Ms. Callaway for her presentation and presented a certificate to her, noting that a donation in her honor had been made to the Rotary International Foundation.
The meeting was adjourned at 1:00 pm.