Cahaba Teacher Home
The Cahaba River
Tips for Planning a Field Trip
About the Authors
provides teachers with some very basic facts about the Cahaba River.
There are currently four major sections
information about the ecology of the Cahaba River can be found on
Description of Upper and Lower Cahaba
Threats to the
Geography: The Cahaba River is located in
central Alabama and its watershed includes portions of the St. Clair, Jefferson, Shelby,
Bibb, Perry, and Dallas counties.
courtesy of the Alabama Maps project:
Some basic ecological facts about
- The Cahaba is the longest free-flowing river in
Alabama. This means that there are no dams on the Cahaba.
- There are 69
imperiled species that make
their home in the Cahaba River.
- The Cahaba supports the largest known
of shoals lily in the world.
- There are 131
species of fish that can be found in
the Cahaba river.
- Visit our Cahaba Animals and
Cahaba Plants pages to learn more about the
The Cahaba River is an
The Cahaba River is
noted as the largest free flowing river in Alabama with an
incredible range of biodiversity. In
protecting the aquatic ecosystem
we must observe the importance between habitat and species. Aquatic
species' populations depend on such environmental factors as sources of energy, temperature
range, quality of the water, speed of the current, oxygen levels in
the water, and
type (such as silt, sand, or rock). These factors and others provide the habitat for
species an aquatic ecosystem. These factors vary within an aquatic
ecosystem, thus providing a range of habitat types in the ecosystem.
Because different species prefer different habitats, the more habitat
diversity there is in a stream or river, the more species you will find.
Together, all the species in an ecosystem form the
community. While all species require a
different set of environmental factors, most species in the Cahaba River rely on
there being a sufficient amount of unpolluted water flowing through the
Ecological Terms You Should Know: Specialists are
organisms that require a narrow range of environmental factors (a
Other organisms that may tolerate a wide range of conditions for their
habitats are known as generalists. Organisms are also
classified by their feeding roles. The terms
some ways to distinguish animals based on differences in food choice.
Other terms of classifications can be found in the sites Glossary.
- Much of the River's economic
importance is due to its supplying us with potable water.
- The Cahaba River supplies Alabama with 25% of its
- The Cahaba River, Little Cahaba River and Lake
Purdy system provides an average of 57 million gallons of drinking water
- The Cahaba has become more polluted over the past
20 years. Industries, cities, and counties can discharge
40 million gallons per day of treated
into the Cahaba!
- Untreated sewage and minimally treated wastewater
sometimes flow into the Cahaba during rainy periods! YUCK!
- By providing a place for
recreation, the Cahaba River provides economic importance to the outdoor
sporting industry in the region.
The Cahaba River
provides us with many fun outdoor activities! You can enjoy:
You can find information about renting canoes and
kayaks from Alabama Small Boats located in Helena
For canoeing and kayaking, there are many
locations to launch from in the area. One great spot for launching a canoe is Cahaba Landing
in Irondale, with a take-out point near Liberty Park. Click here for directions:
Other launch and take-out points can be found on
a map provided by the Cahaba River Society:
Sources used: World Wildlife Fund
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
See References for other sources