Completing the connection of values of the new CCMP is Water Quality, without which, none of the above values would exist. The community continues to desire water that is drinkable, swimmable, and productive for marine life. Many challenges faced the waters of the Mobile Bay estuary 10 years ago. In the past, negligent management practices and uninformed development decisions allowed for pollution from point and non-point sources to flow into sensitive habitats. Increased sedimentation from urban development, dredging, and erosion were common. The 2002 CCMP generated many positive changes. Management and monitoring plans, like those developed for the Weeks Bay NERR and the Bon Secure NWF have contributed to the conservation and restoration of area waters. The Alabama Department of Environmental Management’s (ADEM’s) Water Quality Program reports water quality conditions to the EPA, provides biennial lists of impaired waters, develops total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) for impaired waters, develops waste load allocations, and includes water quality in planning processes. Several successful community-based volunteer programs like Alabama Water Watch (part of the Global Water Watch program, a citizen volunteer, water-quality monitoring program covering all of the major river basins in Alabama) have been established.
A common theme voiced throughout the community input process was the issue of trash -on our beaches; at access points throughout the estuary; degrading pristine shorelines; and clogging boat motors, nets, waterways, and shorelines. Trash is more than visual pollution - it threatens our physical and economical coastal environment. Stormwater continues to be a major challenge carrying toxins, nutrients, pathogens and trash into waterways as public resistance to fund implementation of a broad-scale plan persists.