When I started at Mobile Baykeeper (Mobile Bay Watch) in 1998, I settled on one word to inspire our effort – Engage. An engaged community is knowledgeable, active and willing to work to improve, restore or protect what it loves. For me, fishing in Mobile Bay, skiing on Old River, hunting in the Delta, kayaking on Fowl River or sitting on a dock along Dog River are just a few favorite past-times.
We have been excited to engage you in our work for clean water, clean air, and healthy communities. We won a few in 2014, but we lost a significant battle with the oil pipeline in our drinking water. We will continue to work hard to engage you through our research, education and collaboration efforts so that together we can continue making significant improvements for our home.
2014 Campaign Recap:
The BP/Deepwater Horizon environmental damage litigation began and U.S District Judge Carl Barbier found the responsible parties committed gross negligence in Phase I. Phase II determined that BP dumped 3.19 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, reducing the maximum penalty to $13.7 billion. 2015 will bring the trial phase to a close and, with hope, allow the true restoration to begin.
Oil Disaster-Restoration fines were allocated to excellent projects such as oyster reef restoration, 100-1000: Restore Coastal Alabama projects, Joe’s Branch in the D’Olive Bay Watershed Management Plan, restoring Mon Louis Island on Fowl River and additional Watershed Management Plans – Bon Secour, Wolf Bay, Fish River, Fowl River, Bayou La Batre, Dog River and the lower Mobile-Tensaw Delta.
Oil and gas issues expanded for Mobile County with a pipeline through our drinking water supply, proposals for major above ground storage tank “farms,” and a petroleum train derailment in Aliceville, Alabama that spilled crude into rivers within our watershed. We reviewed gaps in existing regulatory practice, Army Corps of Engineer processes, and City Zoning and made suggestions to improve these processes to better protect the health of our families and community along the Gulf Coast.
Water quality issues saw improvements with the City of Mobile instituting stronger Litter and Stormwater Ordinances. We assisted the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program’s effort to develop the Three Mile Creek and Fowl River Watershed Management Plans and managed 12 successful litter cleanups and Apple Snail Roundups. We also submitted 20 comment letters on state and national policy that affect water quality; including permit applications to ensure new or growing facilities focus on finding clean water options. (continued on next page)
A concentration on Quality of Life is always a Mobile Baykeeper focus. A trip to Forrest Park in St. Louis revealed forward-looking ideas to not only beautify our area waterways, but also make them accessible, enjoyable and usable for everyone. We are organizing the Mobile Greenway Initiative that will connect the University of South Alabama, Langan Park via Three Mile Creek to Downtown Mobile, and then on to Dog River through a series of walking, biking and paddling trails.
Without support, involvement and engagement from our members and the community, we could not do this work. Mobile Baykeeper asks you to become a part of our team. Working together, we not only continue the way of life we enjoyed as kids, we ensure our all future generations enjoy our Coastal Alabama-Mobile Bay Area. Thank you and we look forward to another incredible year at Mobile Baykeeper.
Casi (kc) Callaway
Executive Director & Baykeeper