The mainstem of the Coosa River is listed as water quality impaired for its entirety from the border between Alabama and Georgia downstream to Jordan Dam. Problems with nutrient pollution and low dissolved oxygen are exacerbated by the presence and operations of hydropower dams. Toxins like PCBs and mercury are also problems. Fish consumption advisories for PCBs have been issued for considerable portions of the Coosa River. (State of Rivers)

Six Coosa River tributaries are listed as failing to meet water quality standards: Black Creek, Buxahatchee Creek, Choccolocco Creek, Little Wills Creek, and unnamed tributary to Dry Branch and unnamed tributary to Hurricane Creek. (this list is only current through 1998).

Rapid growth in the metropolitan Atlanta area and north Georgia since 1950 has caused large increases in water demands. As a result, the state of Georgia has requested the reallocation of water in the Coosa basin to meet these demands. In the interests of maintaining adequate water supplies for the Alabama portions of the Coosa, Alabama filed litigation challenging this reallocation of the Coosa’s shared resources. To resolve this conflict outside of the legal system the two states have entered into negotiations on a water compact for the Alabama, Coosa, and Tallapoosa river basin. An identical process is taking place for the shared resources of the Appalachicola, Chattahoochee, Flint between the states of Georgia, Alabama and Florida. These compacts will determine the fate of these water resources for the next 50 years. (Corps)

The health of aquatic ecosystems is linked to the health of terrestrial ecosystems. (GA DNR)

Georgia lists 121 miles of streams in the Coosa basin as partially supporting their designated uses and 371 miles as not supporting their uses. Urban runoff and high PCB concentrations in fish are the most commonly cited problems.

Alabama lists 39 miles of streams in the Coosa basin that either do not support or only partially support their designated uses. Gravel mining, feedlots, cropland erosion, and hydroelectric power production are sources for organic enrichment and low DO concentrations in the basin. The Coosa river is generally more enriched in nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorous) than the Tallapoosa.

Weiss Lake, Neely Henry, Logan Martin, Lay Lake, and Lake Mitchell either do not support or only partially support their designated uses. Priority organics, nutrients, pH, organic enrichment, DO, and flow alteration are listed as some of the causes for the impairment. Sources of these impairments range from flow regulation to industrial discharges to urban and rural nonpoint source pollution. (EPA)

Lay Lake had an advisory for dioxin being released from a paper mill in 1990. This advisory was lifted in 1991. (EPA website)

Five of the six Coosa reservoirs are considered degrading by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.

Recently state officials have initiated the establishment of nutrient criteria for many of Alabama’s lakes. It is hoped that by monitoring and permitting for excess nutrients, the eutrophication of Alabama’s lakes can be avoided.

The Coosa River Basin has fish consumption advisories for 8 locations, according to the Alabama Department of Health’s 2001 bulletin.

Choccolocco Creek, in Calhoun and Talladega counties, is the only tributary stream with an advisory and includes the entire length of the Creek from south of Oxford, downstream to where Choccolocco Creek flows into Logan Martin Lake. The advisory is for no consumption of all species due to the presence of PCBs.

All of the Coosa lakes, except Lake Mitchell and Jordan Lake have advisories. From north to south (upstream to downstream) they are:

From Weiss Dam upstream to the GA state line (including Weiss Lake), there is a limited consumption of catfish over one pound due to PCBs. Limited consumption is defined as no consumption for women of reproductive age and children under 15, and no more than one meal per month for others.

In the Croft Ferry area of Neely Henry Lake there is a no consumption advisory for channel catfish due to PCBs.

From Neely Henry Dam downstream to Riverside, there is a limited consumption of catfish over one pound due to PCBs.

From Logan Martin Dam upstream to Riverside and downstream to Vincent (including Logan Martin Lake), there is a limited consumption advisory for Largemouth, Spotted and Striped Bass due to PCBs.

Downstream of Logan Martin Dam to Vincent there is also a no consumption advisory for Spotted and Striped Bass, Catfish over one pound and Crappie due to PCBs

Between Logan Martin Dam and Lay Dam (including Lay Lake) there in a no consumption advisory for Striped and Spotted Bass, Crappie, and Blue Catfish due to PCBs.

Two miles downstream of Logan Martin Dam and one half mile downstream of the mouth of Kelly Creek, the Upper Lay Lake has a limited consumption advisory for Spotted Bass due to PCBs.