What YOU can do!

How can YOU make a difference in improving local water quality?

As our human footprint grows, we can take steps to avoid and reduce negative impacts on local water quality.  Whether you live, work, or play on the water, set goals to improve water quality in your community, plan ahead, and take action to ensure a future with clean water. Balancing land use with water quality priorities that are appropriate for protection of natural resource and public health will help sustain water quality and keep shellfisheries safe for harvest. 

Clean Water Tips

Incorporate clean water practices into your daily activities. 

  • Find best practices to promote clean water in your community with Create a Clean Water Future.  Clean water tips are specifically designed for children, teens, and adults, as well as restaurants, schools, and local businesses.
  • Informational trifolds available through the City of Mobile’s Storm Water Management website provide easily transferable methods for residents, businesses, contractors, and developers to reduce storm water pollution. 
  • Reduce nutrient pollution to coastal waters by properly disposing of yard debris, fertilizers, and household chemicals.  Use eco-friendly and phosphate-free detergents and cleaning products.
  • Human health risks associated with microbial pollution (bacteria and viruses), can be avoided by picking up after your pet and properly managing livestock operations.
     

Planning and Construction

Plan for future land-use change near coastal waters.

  • Before new construction begins, proper planning is essential to reduce delivery of nutrients and microbes to coastal waters via stormwater.  Use the EPA’s Green Infrastructure Modeling Toolkit, designed to help communities manage their water resources.
  • In coastal areas vulnerable to tropical storms and hurricanes, additional steps are necessary to manage large pulses of stormwater.  
  • To reduce runoff associated with impervious surfaces (roads, parking lots, driveways, sidewalks, buildings), design landscapes to include planted areas with porous soil and vegetation that will naturally absorb and filter stormwater.  
  • Use porous building materials whenever possible, including specially designed permeable pavements (e.g.; concrete, asphalt) or natural materials like crushed shells and wood chips. Check with your contractor, building supplier, or nursery to request these materials.
  • Collect and reuse rainwater by implementing rain barrels or cisterns.  Follow Grand Bay NERR on Facebook for news on upcoming Rain Barrel Workshops.
  • Practices that reduce water quality impairment can be incorporated at all levels of construction, from home improvement projects to real estate and commercial development to urban design and zoning.  
     

Wastewater Treatment

  • More than 75% of the U.S. population is connected to centralized wastewater treatment systems, which treat and discharge human waste in compliance with EPA regulations outlined in the Primer for Municipal Wastewater Treatment Systems.
  • In the face of human population growth and aging wastewater infrastructure and facilities, communities must plan to maintain, update, and replace existing wastewater systems to ensure effective treatment.
  • Increase monitoring of lift and pumping stations that transport wastewater to ensure a quick and effective response in cases of equipment failure.  Install monitoring devices, especially at remote stations, to quickly inform operators of potential problems. 
  • Properly install and maintain septic tanks, including regular inspections and pump outs.  EPA’s SepticSmart Initiative provides resources for homeowners, local organizations, and government leaders to ensure safe use of septic systems.
  • Lawfully dispose of human waste from houseboats, fish camps, and recreational and commercial vessels at pump out stations in Alabama, Mississippi, or your local area. 
  • Learn how to pump out your boat’s holding tank to safely dispose of human waste and develop a written waste management plan, which is required for boats 40 ft and longer.  Use Boat U.S. Foundation’s sample plans to get started.  
     

Report Problems

If you suspect wastewater contamination is occurring, report the problem to authorities.  Sewage system connections can be in locations that are difficult to access and maintain.  Overflows can occur during periods of high flow, flooding, or due to malfunctioning pump or lift stations, leading to unintentional inputs of raw sewage to waterways. Missing manhole covers and waste paper in waterways are signs of sewage system failures and are just one example of a problem that should be reported to authorities. 

By reporting problems, you become part of a water quality monitoring network that can improve conditions and make a difference for our coastal waters. 

Alabama

  • Alabama Department of Environmental Management
    • Report spills of hazardous materials and fish kills
    • 24 hour phone line: 1-800-843-0699
    • During normal business hours, contact the nearest ADEM Field Office

Mobile County

  • Mobile County Health Department: Onsite Sewage Division
    • Report environmental health concerns, including septic and sewer issues
    • Phone: 251-634-9801, Email: onsitecomplaints@mchd.org
  • Mobile County Department of Environmental Enforcement
    • Report illegal dumping of raw sewage and other pollution violations
    • Phone: 251-574-STOP (7867)

Baldwin County

  • Baldwin County Sewer Service
    • Report sewer spills/overflows
    • Phone: 251-971-3022

Mississippi

  • Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality
    • Report spills posing environmental or public health risks 
    • 24-hour phone line: 1-800-222-6362

Jackson County

  • Jackson County Department of Solid Waste
    • Report illegal dump-sites and pollution violations
    • Phone: 228-872-8340
  • Local utility authority customer service (varies by location within Jackson County)
    • Report sewer spills/overflows 
      • Jackson County Utility Authority/Phone: 228-762-0119
      • West Jackson County Utility District/Phone: 228-872-3898
      • City of Ocean Springs Public Works Department/Phone: 228-875-3955
         

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