Environmental Protection

Estuary Program Hires GS&P to Address Stormwater

The Mobile Bay National Estuary Program (MBNEP) has retained Gresham, Smith and Partners to work with the Baldwin County Watershed Coalition Steering Committee.

The group is a cooperative public/private regional volunteer coalition watershed management program. The program will be aimed at supporting local communities in managing flooding, drainage and issues related to stormwater runoff in Baldwin County while preserving and improving water quality and the use of local water resources.

The coalition was a grassroots initiative created by local stakeholders within Baldwin County due to negative impacts resulting from tremendous development growth that has enhanced the economy but brought the need for smart growth to manage stormwater runoff. Coordinating stormwater management will protect community health, safety, protect property values, and encourage environmental stewardship of Mobile Bay, its tributaries and subwatersheds, and Alabama coastal waters. The voluntarily organized public/private partnership includes local governments, legislators, business and commercial interests, citizen environmental organizations and other stakeholders in Baldwin County.

"Baldwin County receives more than 66 inches of rain annually and the resulting stormwater runoff contributes to flooding, erosion and sedimentation, and urban development pollution," Roberta Arena Swann, director MBNEP. "The effects impact our tourism industry, recreational opportunities, and commercial benefits of our watersheds as well as decrease aesthetics and property values. We seek to resolve long-standing problems and promote future stewardship of the Bay, its subwatersheds, and Alabama coastal waters through the development of this comprehensive watershed management program."

Due to limited public works budgets resulting from mandated but unfunded stormwater regulatory compliance and local and national economic conditions, local area governments are facing increased demands to react to these complex and interrelated issues. State legislation specific to Baldwin County was passed to allow for the creation of a public corporation that can implement a stormwater utility authorized to collect stormwater service fees to support improvement project recommendations from the coalition. A referendum will be placed before the voters of Baldwin County in November to approve the creation of the public corporation. GS&P will help to advise and create the format and details of a rate structure and the process to both charge service fees and collect revenues.

"Our team will work with Baldwin County to establish a successful stormwater utility and program that protects the region's natural resources and properties through recommendations that promote smart growth and proactive management, therefore avoiding the impacts of urbanized stormwater runoff," commented David Pyzoha, P.E., project manager, GS&P. "This broad scope of member organizations and stakeholders who have come together for this project offer a unique voluntary alliance not commonly found with stormwater management programs across the United States."

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