The Cahaba River is a major tributary of the Alabama River and part of the larger Mobile River Basin. With 140 of its 191 miles undammed, it is the longest free-flowing river in Alabama and is among the most scenic and biologically diverse rivers in the United States. It drains an area of 1,870 square miles and is a source of drinking water for over 1 million residents of the Birmingham District. It was known to the natives of the area as Ika Uba, meaning "waters above".
The waters of the Cahaba are home to more than 131 species of freshwater fish (18 of which have been found in no other river system), 40 species of mussels, and 35 species of snails. Sixty-nine of these animal species are endangered. Among the countless plant species that thrive in and around the Cahaba is the Cahaba lily.
The Cahaba flows through heavily populated areas in the Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Statistical Area. In addition to serving as a source of drinking water, the river is a popular canoeing destination. Pressure to develop the land around the Cahaba presents a growing threat to the river's health.
A series of improvements in the last decade have shown some signs of restoring the river's health. The Marvel slab, built for coal trucks needing to cross the stream just below the inlet of Shades Creek, was removed in 2004. The Gold-Kist poultry processing plant near Trussville closed, and Jefferson County built a new Trussville Wastewater Treatment Plant in 1998 as part of a comprehensive effort to comply with a federal consent decree for violations of the Clean Water Act.
 See also
- "Cahaba River." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 21 Feb 2006, 18:21 UTC. 21 Mar 2006, 00:30 .
- Bouma, Katherine (November 19, 2006) "Imperiled fish reappear up Shades Creek." Birmingham News
- Nijhuis, Michelle (August 2009) "The Cahaba: A River of Riches" Smithsonian magazine.
 External links
- The Cahaba River Society
- Upper Cahaba Watershed Study
- Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge at the US Fish & Wildlife Service
- Cahaba River at Birmingham Water Works Board
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