Thompson Engineering was contracted by the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program (MBNEP) to prepare a Comprehensive Watershed Management Plan (CWMP) for the Weeks Bay Watershed in Baldwin County, Alabama. The watershed includes the drainage basins of Fish and Magnolia Rivers, both of which discharge into Weeks Bay. Weeks Bay is one of only three water bodies in Alabama designated as an Outstanding National Resource Water.
The CWMP provides a conceptual basis for improving and protecting water quality, fish populations, environmental health and resiliency, culture and heritage, water access, and shorelines in the Weeks Bay Watershed. Thompson’s work for the project included: literature/data review, data compilation, inventory, and characterization; demographic profile; community participation and stakeholder engagement; development of management alternatives and restoration opportunities; examination of the regulatory framework; development of implementation program and financing alternatives; and development of monitoring and evaluation protocols.
The project team was successful in engaging a diverse group of stakeholders which included federal, state, and local officials; homeowners; farmers; home builders; business owners; engineers; and environmental organization leaders. The process employed was developed with the intent of giving all engaged stakeholders a sense of ownership in the research and recommendations developed in the CWMP. The stakeholder engagement portion of the project was so successful, that by the end of the CWMP development process, the Baldwin County Commission agreed to fund a new full-time position for a Watershed Implementation Manager. This manager will lead the Weeks Bay implementation team and help coordinate with other watershed implementation managers in the future.