Weeks Bay Community Input Survey

Thompson Engineering has been awarded a contract to develop a Watershed Management Plan for the Weeks Bay Watershed. Work began on this project in January 2016 and will be complete by the end of March 2017. Actions recommended in this plan will be considered for funding.
An extremely important part of the this project is gathering input from people who live, work, and enjoy the watershed. On March 2, 2016, we held a stakeholder engagement and visioning workshop with breakout groups of farmers, environmental group leaders, developers, businesses, elected officials, homeowners, scientists, engineers, and city/county staff members. Each group identified strengths and positive trends, weaknesses and negative trends, and identified opportunities for improvement.
Now it's your turn: We've listed some of the major things that this group came up with.  This survey is intended to allow people who work, live, play, and care about the Weeks Bay Watershed to have their voices heard during the planning process. We want to know what you care about most. Your input is important. Please use the link below to take the survey.

Community Input Survey

Posted on 03/29/16 at 12:55 PM Permalink

Habitat Restoration Plan and Watershed Comparison Tool Survey: we need your input

Please take a survey to help The Nature Conservancy, in partnership with the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program, develop a Habitat Restoration Plan and Watershed Comparison Tool to help prioritize conservation and restoration activities across our coastal watersheds. It is a short survey that allows you to rate the importance of  different data layers from your perspective.  Help us by taking the time to complete the survey.  You can provide your name or remain anonymous.  We look forward to your input.  Please use the link below to take the survey.


Posted on 05/18/16 at 04:28 PM Permalink

Microplastics: The Tiny, Yet Massive Threat, to Our World’s Oceans

By Caitlin Wessel, PhD Student, Dauphin Island Sea Lab, University of South Alabama

     Every summer millions of visitors from across the USA flock to the white sand beaches of coastal Alabama, ready to enjoy a little rest and relaxation. Unfortunately, unless you are visiting a beach that gets cleaned every morning, more often than not you will also see litter. Human-made litter can be found throughout the world’s oceans and seas, even in remote areas far from human contact, and is commonly referred to as marine debris. What you may or may not notice in the sand are tiny, colorful pieces of plastic, called microplastics, which have washed ashore with the tide. In the northern Gulf of Mexico, microplastics (plastic particles smaller than 5mm) result mainly from the breakdown, by sunlight and waves, of larger plastic trash floating in the oceans but can also come from products containing microbeads, like toothpaste and face wash. Scientists from the University of Georgia estimated that 4.8 to 12.7 million metric tons of plastic trash made its way into the ocean in just one year (2010), and current estimates indicate that 92% of the plastic floating in the world’s oceans are microplastics.

     Microplastics have become a prominent pollution issue, not only in Alabama, but also throughout the world. They are small enough to be easily ingested by aquatic animals, particularly in marine and coastal environments where they float on the ocean surface.  Microplastics floating in the water column can be accidentally ingested by filter-feeders and then work their way up the food chain. Our plastic can affect everything from filter-feeding oysters and mussels to shorebirds, crabs, fish, sea turtles and even dolphins and whales!

     Plastics also contain concentrated toxins from their manufacturing and also from absorbing toxins found in the water column. These toxins can then be released from the plastics as they work their way through the digestive tract and end up in organ and muscle tissue. So do you need to worry about microplastics in your food? Maybe, but so far research has shown ingested microplastics accumulate mainly in the guts of organisms, although some pieces are small enough to enter the blood stream. Unfortunately, little research has been conducted about how much plastic we may be ingesting from our food and there is no information on how microplastics could be affecting humans.

     Researchers at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab and the University of South Alabama are currently working on several projects with the Center for Environmental Resiliency and NOAA to determine how marine debris, big and small, is affecting Alabama and the northern Gulf of Mexico. Our data show that the amount of marine debris accumulating on beaches DOUBLES between April and May. We aren’t sure yet what is responsible, but it is likely related to the increase in tourism and fishing during that time of year. Daily monitoring of shoreline trash on Dauphin Island suggests that beach supplies (chairs, tents, sand toys, etc.) left out overnight by beachgoers frequently end up washed out to sea by storms and high tide. Once exposed to constant sunlight and wave action these large plastic items quickly begin to break down into smaller pieces and eventually become microplastics. So far everywhere we have looked for microplastics in Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi we have found them. All of us are responsible for the problem of marine debris, and it will take all of us to be the solution. 

So what can you do?

  • For starters recycle, but that in itself is not a solution to the problem since only about 5% of plastic is recoverable to make new products.
  • We need to decrease the usage of single-use plastic items like grocery or sandwich bags and start using reusable bags and containers.
  • Stop buying products that contain plastic microbeads. Read the label and look for words like microbeads, polyethylene, or polypropylene.
  • Say NO to printed receipts. Over 250 million gallons of oil, 10 million trees and 1 billion gallons of water are consumed each year just for receipts printed in the USA, generating 1.5 billion pounds of waste.
  •  Use outdoor trash bins with lids- 19 percent of litter results from trash blowing out of waste bins or the backs of pickup trucks.
  • Buy a reusable mug or container for coffee and other drinks. Many places will even give you a discount for bringing your own cup.
  • Drink filtered or tap water out of reusable containers instead of buying bottled water. Beverage bottles are the fourth most common litter item found in Alabama.
  • All of us are responsible for the problem of marine debris, and it will take all of us to be the solution.  
Posted on 05/11/16 at 11:27 AM Permalink

Push for a new national park in Alabama is an upstream battle

Posted on 05/03/16 at 03:32 PM Permalink

Gulf Coast Cover Story: Gulf Coast Money Grab…In the race for BP settlement dollars…

Damage Control

BP's pledge to "make things right" in the Gulf will fall way short under its legal settlment, experts say...click to read more

Posted on 04/25/16 at 04:09 PM Permalink

Mon Louis Island Restoration Project Bid Notice



Sealed proposals will be received by Dauphin Island Sea Lab / Mobile Bay National Estuary Program (MBNEP), Attention Roberta Swann, 118 North Royal St. Suite 601, Mobile, AL 36602 on April 21, 2016, until 2:00 PM (CDT), for:

Restoration of the Northern End of Mon Louis Island

Fowl River, Mobile County, Alabama

at which time and place they will be publicly opened and read. A cashier’s check or bid bond payable to Dauphin Island Sea Lab / Mobile Bay National Estuary Program in an amount not less than five (5) percent of the amount of the bid, but in no event more than $10,000, must accompany the bidder’s proposal.  Performance and Payment Bonds and evidence of insurance required in the bid documents will be required at the signing of the Contract.

The work includes the construction of a 1,540 linear foot continuous riprap dike breakwater; filling of approximately 4 acres behind the breakwater for marsh creation (utilizing hydraulic dredging from a nearby open water borrow source); and maintenance dredging of the Federal Fowl River navigation channel using hydraulic dredging with disposal in the federally-approved open water disposal area.

Drawings and specifications may be examined at Owner’s offices as listed above.  Plans are not expected to be available until approximately March 25, 2016.

Bid Documents may be obtained from the Engineer upon deposit of $200.00 per set, which will be refunded in full on the first two sets issued to each general contract bidder submitting a bona fide bid, upon return of documents in good condition within ten days of bid date.  Other sets for general contractors, and sets for subcontractors and dealers, may be obtained with the same deposit, which will be refunded as above, less cost of printing, reproduction, handling, and distribution.  Bid Documents will be available by contacting Engineer’s Office: Dana Glass, Thompson Engineering, 2970 Cottage Hill Road, Ste. 190, Mobile, AL 36606 (251-666-2443).  Requests for the IFB Project Manual shall include a check made payable to “Thompson Engineering” along with mailing address, street address, telephone/fax number, and contact (including e-mail address).  Electronic PDF sets of Bid Documents will be available free of charge and can be obtained from the Engineer by emailing: dglass@thompsonengineering.com – and a download link will be provided.

A Mandatory Pre-Bid Conference will be conducted on April 7, 2016 at 10:00 AM (CDT) at the St. Rose of Lima Parish Hall, 2951 Durette Avenue, Coden, AL 36523.  Bidders not in attendance at the Pre-Bid Meeting will not be allowed to submit a bid for construction of the project.

Bids must be submitted on proposal forms furnished by the Engineer or copies thereof.  All bidders bidding in amounts exceeding that established by the State Licensing Board for General Contractors must be licensed under the provisions of Title 34, Chapter 8, Code of Alabama, 1975, and must show evidence of license before bidding or bid will not be received or considered by the Engineer; the bidder shall show such evidence by clearly displaying his or her current license number on the outside of the sealed envelope in which the proposal is delivered.  The Owner reserves the right to reject any or all proposals and to waive technical errors if, in the Owner’s judgment, the best interests of the Owner will thereby be promoted.


download PDF version of bid notice

Posted on 04/11/16 at 11:11 AM Permalink

Local Organizations Release Final Plan to Improve and Protect Fowl River Watershed

Rick Frederick, Community Relations Manager
Mobile Bay National Estuary Program (http://www.mobilebaynep.com)
(251)380-7941 rfrederick@mobilebaynep.com, April 6, 2016

Local Organizations Release Final Plan to Improve and Protect Fowl River Watershed
The Mobile Bay National Estuary Program (MBNEP), in partnership with Goodwyn, Mills, and Cawood, Inc. (GMC), has completed and released the Fowl River Watershed Management Plan. Visit the Fowl River Watershed page on the MBNEP website (www.mobilebaynep.com) to view and download the plan and appendices.
In 2014, the MBNEP contracted with GMC to prepare a comprehensive Watershed Management Plan (WMP) for the Fowl River Watershed. The purpose of the plan is to guide watershed resource managers, policy makers, community organizations and citizens to protect the chemical, biological, and cultural integrity of the Fowl River Watershed. Specific goals are to protect and preserve the waters and habitats that support healthy populations of fish, shellfish, and wildlife and provide for recreation in and on the waters of this estuary of Mobile Bay.
Completion of a comprehensive watershed management plan involves collaborative efforts from numerous sources. A Steering Committee comprising diverse stakeholders was created to guide the planning process. The Committee, working with MBNEP, then established working groups  coalitions of federal, state, and local agencies; county and local governments; business groups and commercial interests, property owners and developers; and civic and environmental groups.
Although Fowl River is overall a healthy watershed, the working groups identified nutrient loading, excessive stormwater runoff, and habitat loss as critical issues, as well as stormwater management and flood protection. Improved management of new urban development and retrofits of existing developments using stormwater best management practices are recommended; ways to combat habitat loss are also a part of the plan.
Residents of the Fowl River Watershed and other local stakeholders were also engaged in a public outreach and education effort. They identified the following priority issues: habitat management, habitat protection, litter, erosion and sedimentation, ordinances, sustainable development, citizen participation and access, shorelines, stormwater management, habitat acquisition, islands, chemical management, signage, enforcement, boat wakes, and recreation. A working group developed management measures and goals to tackle these priorities in a systematic way.
Since 2010, the MBNEP has expanded its work promoting wise stewardship of the waters, species and resources of the watersheds within the Mobile Bay drainage basin. The Fowl River Watershed is the fourth watershed within the larger Mobile Bay watershed system to be evaluated in the past five years. Preparation of the Fowl River Watershed Management Plan was made possible by collaborative funding provided by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation through MBNEP.

Posted on 04/06/16 at 04:43 PM Permalink

Request for Qualifications: Shell Belt/Coden Belt Roads Living Shorelines Project

As part of the Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment Phase IV Early Restoration Plan, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, State Lands Division (SLD) is beginning implementation of the Shell Belt/Coden Belt Roads Living Shorelines project. The proposed project would include the placement of a living shorelines breakwater and the planting of salt marsh vegetation on state-owned submerged lands adjacent to the Shell Belt and Coden Belt Roads rights-of-way located along the northern shoreline of Portersville Bay in Mississippi Sound, Mobile County.

The SLD is seeking a professional services firm to provide project planning, design, engineering, permitting and construction oversight services. The selected firm would also implement a 5-year post construction monitoring program in accordance with the draft Monitoring Plan.

Firms interested in submitting a response to the Request for Qualifications (RFQ) should acquire a copy of the RFQ including a copy of the Alabama Living Shorelines Project Fact Sheet, the Conceptual Site Plan and the draft Monitoring Plan, by downloading a copy of the RFQ packet from http://www.outdooralabama.com/request-proposals.

Posted on 04/06/16 at 09:54 AM Permalink

Draft 2016 303(d) List and Fact Sheet out for Public Comment

Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act (CWA) establishes that states are to list (the 303(d) list) waters for which technology-based limits alone do not ensure attainment of applicable water quality standards (WQS). The 303(d) list is to be submitted by the states to EPA on April 1 of each even numbered year. The 303(d) list includes priority rankings set by the state for the listed waters.

Alabama Department of Environmental Management

Notice of Availability of the Proposed Section 303(d) List of Impaired Waters for 2016

State of Alabama

Public Notice - 214

Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act requires that each state identify those waters within its boundaries for which controls of pollutant sources are not stringent enough to implement water quality standards applicable to such waters. In addition, each State shall establish a priority ranking for such waters, taking into account the severity of the pollution and the uses to be made of such waters. For each waterbody identified on the list, the state is required to establish a total maximum daily load (TMDL) for each pollutant at a level necessary to implement applicable water quality standards.

The Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) has developed the Draft 2016 Section 303(d) List and is now making it available for public review and comment. Electronic copies of the Draft List and Fact Sheet are available on the ADEM web site at the following address: http://adem.alabama.gov/newsEvents/publicNotices.cnt. Copies of the Draft List and Fact Sheet may also be obtained by contacting ADEM at the address, e-mail address, or phone number provided below.

Persons wishing to submit comments or provide new information regarding the Draft 2016 Section 303(d) List are invited to do so in writing to Joseph Roy, Water Division, Alabama Department of Environmental Management, P.O. Box 301463, Montgomery, Alabama 36130-1463 (street address: 1400 Coliseum Boulevard, Montgomery, Alabama 36110-2059). Mr. Roy’s phone number is 334-270-5635. His email address is jtr@adem.state.al.us. Comments must be received by the Department prior to 5:00 p.m. on March 7, 2016.

This notice is hereby given this 7th day of February, 2016, by authority of ADEM. You can download the list and fact sheet by clicking here.


Lance R. LeFleur

Posted on 02/25/16 at 04:15 PM Permalink

Mobile Bay NEP Awarded RESTORE Act Funds as part of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Settlement.

The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (Council) recently issued a final list of projects and programs (activities) to be funded pursuant to the RESTORE Act. This list of activities is called the Initial Funded Priorities List (FPL), and the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program (MBNEP) was awarded 2 of these projects. This FPL will use currently available funds for planning and on-the-ground restoration activities in key watersheds across the Gulf.

PROJECT 1: The State of Alabama will distribute $4,342,500.00 in RESTORE funds to the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program for purposes of completing comprehensive Watershed Management Plans for 19 priority watersheds in coastal Alabama. The MBNEP adopted the Watershed Management Planning Protocol and prioritized 31 coastal and intertidal watersheds for the development of standardized comprehensive management plans designed to guide future conservation and restoration efforts. To date, four watershed management plans are complete with implementation projects underway; ten others have been awarded funds through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s (NFWF) Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund (GEBF), and RESTORE funds are approved for nineteen additional priority watersheds. Two of the nineteen priority RESTORE-funded watersheds will be co-funded with NFWF GEBF so that watershed management plans can be completed.

Ecological Benefits/Outcomes and Metrics: The development of Watershed Management Plans is a foundational step in determining the critical ecological restoration needs for the watershed while incorporating best available science and community stakeholder input. Each plan will identify and describe future restoration projects, quantify the expected ecological benefits, identify funding sources, and provide metrics by which to gage success.

PROJECT 2: The Mobile Bay Estuary Program (MBNEP) will receive $358,000.00 in RESTORE funds for project planning activity to include engineering and design of a stream restoration plan for restoring Twelve Mile Creek, one of six main tributaries within the Three Mile Creek Watershed, and for development of an invasive species control program focused on aquatic vegetation in Three Mile Creek; preparation of necessary environmental compliance and regulatory clearances documentation; quality assurance; and pre-restoration monitoring. The Planning activity of the MBNEP RESTORE project will ensure that the implementation phase, if funded, can proceed in a timely and fully compliant manner, and will include adequate baseline monitoring data to measure results following implementation.

The Council has listed the implementation of this project as a priority for potential future funding. If funding is approved for implementation of this activity, The MBNEP would receive an additional $1,742,800.00 to implement the plans and will be responsible for ensuring timely initiation and completion of the project elements, including compliance, monitoring and reporting requirements. This project will lay the foundation for improving dissolved oxygen concentrations within the creek, thus restoring a healthy aquatic ecosystem and fishery and contribute to the opportunity to transform Three Mile Creek, a community liability, into a waterway destination.

You can download and view the initial FPL here

Posted on 12/17/15 at 09:53 AM Permalink