Watershed Size and Location
The West Fowl River Watershed covers over 20,000 acres in southeastern Mobile County, flows southwesterly into Heron Bay, Portersville Bay, and Mississippi Sound. Although relatively undeveloped, portions of the watershed are within the urbanized area of the City of Bayou La Batre. Total land use breakdown: 6% urban, 2% agricultural land, 19% forested, 1% water, 71% other uses.
Main Tributaries and Tidal Influence
West Fowl River (HUC 031700090103) and Delchamp’s Bayou (HUC 031602050207). West Fowl River is a shallow brackish tributary that is approximately 20 miles long and drains two sub-basins (West Fowl River and Delchamp’s Bayou) and seven other minor tributaries (Delchamp’s Bayou, Heron Bayou, Bayou Jonas, Negro Bayou, Bayou Sullivan, Bayou Como and Bayou Coden). All of these areas are tidally influenced.
Water Use Classification and Impairments
ADEM classifies West Fowl River for use as Swimming & Whole Body Contact, as well as Fish & Wildlife. West Fowl River has been listed on the 303(d) list of impaired waters since 2000 for Metals (Mercury). A draft TMDL was originally expected in 2018 but has been delayed until 2020 on the draft 2014 list. The listed cause of this impairment is atmospheric deposition.
Access to the waterways along West Fowl River includes private access points, including Jemison’s Bait and Tackle boat launch and Delta Port Marina. Additional access points are needed. The immediate inshore waters surrounding the watershed have historically supported both public oyster reefs and private leased beds. Currently, the area supports 5 commercial off-bottom oyster farms that provided a harvest of ~200,000 oysters at a wholesale value of ~$100,000 during the previous production cycle. The area is likely to add 3 more farms and annual production could increase to over 1.2 million oysters per year with a wholesale value of ~$500,000.
ADCNR has identified the West Fowl River area as a Geographical Area of Particular Concern (GAPC). This designation defines Special Management Areas within the coastal region that warrant special attention because of their coastal related values, characteristics or specific pressures. The area contains a wide array of natural communities and species regarded as rare in coastal Alabama. USFWS documented T&E Species: Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris) and Gulf sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus desotoi) have been found in West Fowl River. State protected species include the Mississippi diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin pileata) and alligator snapping turtle (Macroclemys temmincki).