Agriculture is still the major factor in the economy of the Alabama River Basin, especially the lower part. Corn, hay, peanuts, potatoes, and soybeans are the principal crops, and livestock and poultry production and dairying are increasing in importance. The trend is toward larger commercial-type farms with increased use of machinery. (from Water Resource Development)
There are many manufacturing industries within the basin.
Approximately 39 percent (187,339 acres) of the Alabama River subbasin consists of palustrine wetland habitat. 99% of these wetlands are riparian and less than 1% are reservoir-associated wetlands. (Corps ’98 p.4-138)
The Alabama River from Wetumpka downstream to the Mobile is considered a critical navigation route for commercial barge traffic, which is an important regional economic resource.
A 9-foot-deep by 200-foot-wide navigation depth is needed to provide the full authorized navigation channel. 7.5 feet can provide a limited amount of navigation. Over the period from 1976 to 1993, the 7.5-foot channel was available 79% of the time and the 9 foot channel was available 72% of the time.
Barge traffic for waterborne commerce has been decreasing since the late 1980s when severe droughts adversely affected navigation channel conditions and competitive rates became available for other modes of transportation. Traffic on the Alabama River is almost entirely related to forest products and pulp (85% of commerce).
In 1992 aprrox. 1,777,000 tons of commerce moved over the waterway.