Alabamians deserve clean water just as much as other citizens in the Southeast. Leaving toxic coal ash within a few hundred feet of a major river that is prone to severe flooding is simply nowhere near protective enough. Mobile Baykeeper will fight ardently for coal ash removal until Alabama Power commits to dig it up and move it so Mobile Bay, the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, our local economy, and our communities are safe.
With over 1,500 people educated, 40 presentations given, and 715 surveys taken since September, SWAMP is off to an amazing start! We are extremely excited to bring watershed awareness and education to Mobile and Baldwin counties and are working hard to reach as many students and citizens as possible.
A proposed rule change was announced today that would strip the Clean Water Act of important protections. Allowing this proposed rule change would let industrial facilities, sewage plants, and developers impact many previously protected creeks and fill wetlands without restrictions, harming our local economy and way of life.
The team at Mobile Baykeeper is smart enough to never tell you how to vote, but we wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t encourage you to think about clean water before you vote.
Find out the questions to ask yourself and once you know the answers to those questions, make your decision and VOTE.
Dauphin Island is a charming town nestled between Mobile Bay and the Gulf. As this fragile island continues to develop we must make thoughtful decisions to ensure the treasured heritage of the island is passed on for future generations to enjoy.
Currently a proposed development threatens the island. The developer plans to build condominiums, and a large commercial marina in Aloe Bay. This project, planned on a fragile undeveloped shallow bay, will destroy wetlands and fill in water bottoms home to several important species. After reviewing the proposal and talking with community members, Mobile Baykeeper is urging the Corps to DENY this proposal.
Hurricane Florence did not directly impact the Gulf Coast, but this catastrophic storm highlighted critical weaknesses of coal ash ponds in coastal areas. This summer we caught up on coal ash and explained the dangers of this toxic material including the grave dangers of having a coal ash pond in a floodplain near the coast just upstream of Mobile Bay. Today we look at the threats of coal ash pollution in a post-Florence world.
Mobile Baykeeper submitted a comment letter on the study released by the Corps on the Mobile Ship Channel expansion project. The letter was on behalf of Mobile Baykeeper’s 4,500 members, Board, the Peninsula of Mobile, and Conservation Alabama. Hundreds of community members, several community groups, and local scientists also submitted their own comment letters. The common thread among the letters was the need for the Corps to address major flaws in the study to ensure our natural resources are protected.
The Corps is studying plans to deepen and widen the Mobile Ship Channel. Currently the study concludes “no impacts” will result from deepening and widening the Mobile Ship Channel. After speaking with local experts, community members, and doing our own research - the study is inadequate and likely underestimates the impacts to our precious natural resources. We need you to take action and submit comments by 5pm, Monday Sept 17th.
The Army Corps of Engineers is hosting a public meeting on the proposed deepening and widening of the Mobile Harbor Ship Channel on Sept. 11th. Check out these talking points so you can come to the meeting prepared. Your attendance is important!
If the dam broke, it would release more than 21 million tons of toxic coal ash into the heart of the Delta, a volume 20 times larger than the oil spilled from BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Disaster. We don’t want to see another disaster strike the Gulf Coast. Covering this leaking unlined pond near the Mobile River is irresponsible and threatens the health of our community, economy, and environment.
On July 27, 2018 the Draft Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement (DSEIS) was released by The Army Corps of Engineers. The Public Comment Period will now be open for 45 days. Mobile Baykeeper looks forward to reviewing and submitting additional comments over the coming weeks as we research how our concerns were taken into account following our earlier comments.
Mobile Baykeeper Submits Comments on Mobile Ship Channel Expansion Study
Mobile Bay is our home - a place where we all enjoy swimming, fishing, and playing. It is also a complex and highly sensitive ecosystem that is considered one of the most biodiverse in North America. We depend on a healthy Mobile Bay for many things: recreation, delicious seafood, tourism, coastal development, industry, and so much more.
Therefore, Mobile Baykeeper is staying heavily involved in plans to deepen and widen the Mobile Ship Channel. By thoroughly studying and developing a comprehensive plan for the port expansion, we can grow responsibly and minimize negative impacts to the very natural resources that support many economic sectors and our quality of life along the coast.
Mobile Baykeeper recently submitted comments in advance of the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (DSEIS) due to be published later this summer evaluating the proposed deepening and widening of the Mobile Ship Channel. A summary of our latest comments are below. We ask the Army Corps of Engineers do the following:
Better Define and Understand “No Action” – We are troubled that the Corps has thus far stated there will be “no environmental impacts” associated with this project. We now understand this finding is in part based on predicting ship traffic will be greater without the ship channel deepening and widening project than once it is built - that is a tenuous assumption. We request the Corps review impacts under a variety of scenarios to accurately understand what impacts will occur under these all potential growth scenarios. For example, if ships are able to be more heavily loaded (because the channel is deeper) how will this impact the wake height experienced along the western shorelines of Mobile Bay.
Use More than One Year as a Baseline – The Corps is using weather patterns from 2010 as the only year to develop a model for the entire project. The year of 2010 did not have severe or extreme drought and is likely not an accurate characterization of the full range of conditions that would result from the modifications to the ship channel. We strongly believe they should use more than one single year to create a more accurate model.
Evaluate Alternatives - We suggest the Corps look at alternatives proposals including the implementation of a Vessel Speed Reduction (VSR) program that may reduce project impacts from ship wake (causing erosion to shorelines and disturbing oyster spat settling) and air emissions (degrading air quality) through a reduced speed requirement of all vessels in the channel.
Cumulative & Indirect Impacts – Cumulative impacts include those coming from affiliated industries that will need or wish to expand due to the Port’s expansion as well as prospective new growth due to a deeper and wider ship channel. The cumulative analysis needs be sensitive enough to include other important factors including but not limited to: extreme weather events, pollution, wetland loss, fishery habitat impacts, and sea level rise. The Corps must identify all indirect impacts such as new growth and development, and compensate for any unavoidable impacts.
Coordinate with All Appropriate Audiences – The Corps should meaningfully coordinate with all the appropriate audiences to develop the DSEIS – including state and federal agencies, commercial and recreational fishermen, and minority and low-income communities located in affected areas. To ensure the Corps is utilizing the best available science, they must also connect with the local scientists and researchers who specialize in subjects that are relevant and pertain directly to the study. These individuals have extensive and critical information.
Monitoring Plans & Mitigation – We suggest the Corps implement a long-term monitoring plan that closely evaluates the impacts of dredging and disposal areas for at least 10 years. We encourage them to consider public comments to ensure impacts are not underestimated. If any unavoidable impacts are identified, we suggest the Corps work with the community and environmental groups to ensure mitigation projects will adequately fix the impacts identified and are supported by the community.
Mobile Baykeeper also provided more specific concerns that we want them to study at length:
Changes to saltwater and dissolved oxygen (after creating a deeper channel) impacting...
Wetlands productivity and survival
Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAVs) or seagrasses
Fish and benthic species from habitat loss or changes to water characteristics
Increased ship wake and wave height causing...
Oyster spat settling and oyster farming viability
Current and future living shorelines
Potential mammal ship strikes
Disturbance of mammal and fish species migrations
Dredging activities and a deeper channel causing...
Turbidity (or muddy water) which can impact SAVs, oysters, and fish
Release of harmful contaminants locked in the bottom substrate
Causing direct mortality or disturbance to benthic communities (critters that live on the bottom bay floor)
**And how all of these activities will impact our Threatened and Endangered Species like the West Indian Manatee and Gulf Sturgeon, etc.
Ultimately, we encourage the Corps select a plan that addresses the triple bottom line - the economy, environment, and community. Benefiting all three of these values will continue to allow Mobile Bay to thrive and continue to support its many uses. If you want to dive deeper into our full comment letter, please click here.
Submit comments – You still have a chance to speak up! You can submit written comments via email to MobileHarborGRR@usace.army.mil. On July 27, The Corps released a Draft Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement with a 45 day comment period, so be sure to follow Mobile Baykeeper for updates on this important document.
Become a Member of Mobile Baykeeper to receive more information about our involvement in this issue and other important issues we're working on to protect the Mobile Bay Watershed and our coastal communities.
Questions, comments, or concerns? Let us know! Contact Program & Grants Coordinator Laura Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (251)-433-4229
Thanks to the help of a number of concerned citizens, the City of Fairhope recently discovered a breach in the outfall line from the sewage treatment plant. This is alarming because the breach is allowing treated sewage to discharge approximately 475 feet from the shore into Mobile Bay in only 3-4 feet of water.
First Apple Snail Roundup of the Year
By: Sarah Hogan, AmeriCorps Volunteer Engagement Member
We were greeted with a beautiful day on Saturday March 24 to launch our first Apple Snail Roundup of 2018. There were many familiar faces and lots of new ones who came out to help us remove apple snails from Langan Park.
Because the temperatures are cooler this time of year compared to the summer months, not as many snails were out and active. They avoid the cold by staying in deeper water and reducing their activity levels. However, this did not prevent our group from collecting 462 snails and 660 egg clusters! What a great effort by our incredible volunteers!
This roundup had the added plus of the Goodwill Easter Seals' recycling trailer being on site at Langan Park. As a result, we were able to sort out a significant amount of recyclable materials from our overall collection of litter. There were approximately 450 pieces of trash collected from the park, which could have easily ended up in our waterways if it wasn’t for all of the volunteers who helped do their part.
About Apple Snails
Because an invasive species, apple snails have no natural predator in this area. Our goal is to prevent them from spreading further beyond Three Mile Creek into the Mobile River and Mobile-Tensaw Delta. The snails will continue to grow in masses and eat their way through the local vegetation, causing an imbalance to our local ecosystem. One of the most alarming features of the snails is their capability to reproduce several times during our warmer months. The apple snails’ eggs are sticky, smelly, bubble-gum pink and found deposited along the water’s edge.
One of our community partners, Red Beard's Outfitters, graciously donated some goodies for a give away! Our volunteers who filled out the event survey were entered into a drawing to receive either a hat, t-shirt, and other gifts from our local outdoor store. Special thanks to our friends at Red Beard's for putting a fun spin on the roundup! We intend to apply more fun competitive incentives at other events in the future.
At our next cleanup effort, we plan to ‘Plog The Earth’ on April 22 (Earth Day) with our partners Fleet Feet and Serda's Brewing Company. What is plogging? It’s the newest craze which combines jogging and picking up litter! Click the link above to learn more about this exciting event and sign up online. We hope to see you there!
Mobile Baykeeper has once again discovered ongoing violations by Daphne Utilities. With Daphne Utilities releasing nearly three million gallons of partially treated sewage every day in January, the 4000% violation of legally allowable bacteria levels amounts to approximately 4.6 trillion colonies of bacteria above the legal limit being released into Mobile Bay during the month.