Construction Stormwater Campaign

Stormwater runoff is one of the most significant sources of pollution impacting Coastal Alabama’s waterways. The cumulative impacts of stormwater pollution (both rural and urban based) are threatening the ability for our communities to have clean water that is swimmable, fishable, and drinkable.

Runoff from stormwater, widely regarded as a top threat to water quality nationwide, is a particular threat to waterways in Mobile and Baldwin counties. As growth and development accelerates near the coast, irresponsible construction practices, inadequate drainage infrastructure, poor planning, and imperfect policies challenge the health of local waterways.

Our goals are to 1) ensure permitted construction sites comply with the law and protect waterways to the maximum extent possible and 2) enact strong ordinances that protect against irresponsible growth. To achieve these goals we use a three pronged approach: public education, monitoring and inspection, and advocacy. Working these multiple avenues enables us to address each situation from a site specific level and by looking long-term for rules and procedures that will provide a level playing field for all contractors to do the right thing to protect area waterways from start to finish. 

Education

Muddy Water Watch workshop participants learn about stormwater controls.

We educate citizens on stormwater impacts through SWAMP and our Muddy Water Watch citizen education program. Muddy Water Watch is a program designed to educate volunteers how to monitor and reduce sediment pollution in our waterways; Volunteers will be trained to identify when sites are following good practices and how to report problems to contractors and enforcement agencies when they aren't. By becoming educated on this serious pollution issue citizens also equip themselves to engage in local advocacy efforts to ensure their municipality is prepared to prevent this pollution from occurring. 

Inspection, Collaboration, and Enforcement

High turbidity (the term that means how cloudy water is) from a construction site registers outside the range of Mobile Baykeeper's turbidimeter during a construction stormwater inspection in Fairhope.

We help work to identify issues with stormwater practices locally by reviewing permits and monitoring sites. When we observe documented issues or note problems with sites through our inspections we first try to work with the responsible parties. It is always our goal to collaborate for solutions. Therefore, when we find problems with sites before they have become major issues or if developers come to us we are elated to work with them to ensure the protection of water quality.

Often times, however, problems do not become apparent until significant stormwater pollution has occurred. In these cases whether we find the issue from a permit review, our own inspection, or are made aware of issues via citizen concerns we work with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management to ensure the polluter is held accountable.

Early Engagement and Advocacy

On the policy level we work to ensure that there is strong support for stormwater infrastructure improvements. We advocate to have codes and ordinances developed or amended that require these infrastructure improvements and improve water quality through the use of Low Impact Development (LID), green infrastructure techniques, and other relevant means.