The Restoration

With a Comprehensive Management Plan for the D’Olive Creek, Tiawasee Creek, and Joe’s Branch Watershed completed in August 2010, partners are making progress towards implementing measures recommended to address the primary problems impacting its 23 miles of streams and downstream receiving waters. This 7,700-acre watershed includes portions of Daphne and Spanish Fort and has been plagued by excessive erosion and sedimentation since the early 1970s. With steep, hilly terrain; sandy, erodible soils; hardened, developed surfaces; and, on average, five and a half feet of hard rainfall annually, the D’Olive Watershed presents “the perfect storm” of stormwater impacts. All three principal streams and two unnamed tributaries appear on the State’s 303(d) List of Impaired Waters Bodies for siltation and habitat alteration (from development).

Critical Issues and Areas
Increased volume and velocity of stormwater runoff and changes to local drainage patterns have escalated concerns over erosion and sedimentation within the watershed stream network, Lake Forest Lake, D'Olive Bay, and Mobile Bay. Urban development transforms the natural landscape into hard surfaces (i.e. rooftops, roads, and parking lots), collectively referred to as "impervious cover." Based on the intense growth experienced in this region, a 100% "build-out" condition, with essentially all presently undeveloped land converted to commercial or residential land uses, could be reached by 2020. The identified critical issues and areas for the watershed are:
     Urban Development
     Stormwater Runoff
     Streambank Erosion
     Wetlands Degradation
     Lake Forest Lake Shoaling
     Invasive Species

Recommended Management Measures
Without more effective stormwater management, the projected level of growth within the watershed will continue to worsen stream conditions, and greatly constrain potential future stream restoration efforts. Because ongoing stream channel degradation problems are made worse by each significant rain event, timely action is critical. By successfully addressing excessive storm water runoff and the sedimentation that it causes, the long-term health of the streams, wetlands, and bays will be recovered. The Watershed Management Plan consists of three components that should be implemented concurrently:

  1. Repair Immediate Problems - restoration of streams and wetlands and Lake Forest Lake.
  2. Strengthen Regulatory Controls - additional requirements for stormwater best management practices, land development regulations (zoning ordinances), potential "overlay districts" for stormwater quality improvements.
  3. Restore Watershed Hydrology - 
    • Stormwater retrofits for existing developed areas
    • "Smart Growth" concepts for new developments
    • Land use planning
    • "Green Streets" concepts
    • Forest preservation
    • Rainwater harvesting (cisterns, rain barrels, rain gardens)
    • Bio-retention areas
    • Regional stormwater facilities
    • Preservation of green space
    • Preservation/restoration of riparian buffers
    • Alternative vegetation management

Recommended Project/Program Prioritization and Cost Estimates

Implementation Strategy
Successful implementation of the management measures presented in the WMP will require that a diverse array of implementation strategies by employed. These strategies will involve all levels of stakeholders within the Watershed.

Recommended Implementation Schedule

To track the long-term success or failure of restoration activities in the D’Olive watershed substantial resources have been allocated to monitor sedimentation and flow, water quality, habitats, and wetlands. Comprehensive monitoring in the D’Olive watershed also enables calibration of a Biological Condition Gradient (BCG) model for the larger Mobile Bay Estuary. The BCG model will be used to assess and communicate to the public the health of the estuary, using biological information and stressor assessment to measure estuarine status and trends. To ensure a standardized monitoring protocol for watershed restoration and watershed management plan implementation across all coastal Alabama watersheds, the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program tasked their Science Advisory Committee with the development of a comprehensive monitoring framework. Related D’Olive publications can be found in our library.    

Completed Projects
Joe’s Branch Subwatershed

Current Projects
Tiawasee Creek Subwatershed

D’Olive Creek Subwatershed

Monitoring and Research Studies