Alabama School of Fine Arts,
Moneer Helu and two high school classmates spent the summer testing Birmingham's main source of drinking water twice a week at 11 sites to study the effects of commercial development on the waterway.
Working as interns for Professor Shirley Clark at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, they discovered that after each rainfall, fecal bacteria multiply in the Cahaba River, turbidity increases and fertilizer compounds abound. Helu, who studied the river for three years, told the Birmingham News*, "I didn't realize we drew water from the river in which we dumped sewage. I was shocked."
*"Rain increases pollutants in Cahaba, students learn; Fine Arts students tested water twice a week this summer" - Birmingham News, July 31, 2003