Not My Way or the Highway

Beth K. Stewart, Cahaba River Society

Presentation Summary

Explore how to rise to tough collaboration challenges while staying true to your mission. The Cahaba River Society (CRS) has chosen a path of collaboration and education with stakeholders, including business, government and development, to increase our ability to influence positive solutions. Working with the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) has been our greatest collaboration challenge, opportunity and learning experience. This
presentation shares our lessons learned about collaboration and our progress together with ALDOT. CRS is serving as a resource to help ALDOT meet new federal/state requirements to strengthen construction stormwater controls and implement Low Impact Development postconstruction stormwater design for highways for the first time in Alabama. CRS is also advocating for improved study and understanding of the water resource impacts of the proposed 6-lane Birmingham Northern Beltline through the Cahaba’s and Black Warrior’s headwaters, while staying at the table with ALDOT so that, as the highway moves forward, the design will minimize water resource impacts as much as possible.

About Cahaba River Society

CRS’s mission is to restore and protect the Cahaba River watershed and its rich diversity of life, including the river’s globally-significant freshwater life and the diverse people of central Alabama who rely on the Cahaba watershed for drinking water, recreation and many other needs. With core values of integrity, education, collaboration and stewardship, CRS is a science-based voice and partnership catalyst with a track record for engaging business, government, civic and development interests in education and collaborative projects to promote water-sustaining development.


Beth Stewart has been Executive Director of the Cahaba River Society (CRS) since 1995. Ms. Stewart has a Master’s Degree in Landscape Architecture from The University of California, Berkeley, worked for local government and as a consultant in community planning for 17 years, and co-founded the Kentucky Waterways Alliance and served as its first executive director. She contributes to the Society’s programs on low impact development, storm water, the water-energy connection, the Cahaba Blueway, and faithbased care of creation. She has been named a River Hero by the Alabama Rivers Alliance and a national River Hero by River Network, Inc. and Tom’s of Maine.