Governor Ivey announces Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council approves Alabama’s state expenditure plan for Gulf Coast recovery

April 12, 2019
Alabama Draft State Expenditure Plan approved

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Governor Kay Ivey announced on March 29, 2019, the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (Federal Council) has approved Alabama’s State Expenditure Plan for Gulf Coast recovery. This plan, developed by the Alabama Gulf Coast Recovery Council (AGCRC), proposes 28 activities for the Spill Impact Component of RESTORE funding (also known as Bucket 3) for a total estimated cost of $132,355,952. [The six Bucket 3 projects related to Orange Beach amount to $20,074,463.] Now that the plan has been approved, individual grant applications must be submitted the Federal Restore Council and awarded before project activity can begin.

“The approval of the State Expenditure Plan continues reinvestment in the Alabama’s Gulf Coast communities as a result of the oil spill funds guaranteed to the people of Alabama through the RESTORE Act,” Governor Ivey said. “As these projects move forward, I look forward to seeing the return on this investment, as we build a more resilient coast.”  

The projects proposed in this plan are all located within Mobile and Baldwin Counties and are consistent with the eligible criteria as stated in the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities and Revived Economies Act of 2012 (RESTORE Act), a bill passed by Congress in 2012 in the wake of the BP/Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The Alabama Council decided to adopt all activities deemed eligible for funding under the RESTORE Act for the State Expenditure Plan (SEP) as follows:

  1. Restoration and protection of the natural resources, ecosystems, fisheries, marine and wildlife habitats, beaches, and coastal wetlands of the Gulf Coast region;

  2. Mitigation of damage to fish, wildlife, and natural resources;

  3. Implementation of a federally approved marine, coastal, or comprehensive conservation management plan, including fisheries monitoring;

  4. Workforce development and job creation;

  5. Improvements to or on State parks located in coastal areas affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill;

  6. Infrastructure projects benefiting the economy or ecosystem resources, including port infrastructure;

  7. Coastal flood protection and related infrastructure;

  8. Planning assistance;

  9. Administrative costs;

  10. Promotion of tourism in the Gulf Coast region, including recreational fishing; and,

  11. Promotion of the consumption of seafood harvested from the Gulf Coast region.

The 28 projects selected focus, in large part, on water quality, park and public facility improvements, and environmental restoration.

The 10-member Alabama Gulf Coast Recovery Council was created when Congress passed, and President Barack Obama signed into law, the RESTORE Act. The council is made up of the Governor, who serves as chair; the director of the Alabama State Port Authority, who serves as vice-chair; the chairman of the Baldwin County Commission; the president of the Mobile County Commission; and the mayors of Bayou La Batre, Dauphin Island, Fairhope, Gulf Shores, Mobile and Orange Beach. Former Congressman, and now Chief of Staff, Jo Bonner serves as Governor Ivey’s representative in her absence.

“As Administrator for the Alabama Council, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is appreciative of the coordination and support provided throughout this process by the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council,” said ADCNR Commissioner Chris Blankenship. “We look forward to working with the Council as each grant is developed and implementation begins.  

View the final State Expenditure Plan

Proposed Bucket 3 Slate - $132,294,450 (estimate)

(Bucket 3 refers to the Spill Impact Component of the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund that was created from Clean Water Act Penalties related to the BP Oil Spill in 2010. The Spill Impact Component includes 30% of the Trust Fund divided among the five Gulf Coast States, according to a formula to implement State Expenditure Plans that require approval by the Alabama Gulf Coast Restoration Council.)

Bucket 3 projects related to Orange Beach in bold amount to $20,074,463.

  • Environmental Restoration of Cotton Bayou & Terry Cove - $515,000

  • Development for a Regional Strategic Plan for the Coastal Alabama Region: Phase III - $579,375

  • Expansion of the Orange Beach Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center/Gulf Coast Wildlife Recovery and Interpretative Center - $472,255

  • Auburn University Gulf Coast Engineering Research Station in Orange Beach - $9,270,000

  • Characterization and Delineation of Significant Sand Resource Areas Essential for Beach Restoration, Offshore Alabama - $950,175

  • City of Chickasaw Sewer Rehabilitation Project - $1,339,000

  • Alabama Gulf Seafood Marketing Program - $2,937,699

  • Aloe Bay/Mississippi Sound Water Quality Enhancement Project (Town of Dauphin Island) - $11,845,000

  • Extension of Effluent Force Main from Bayou La Batre WWTF - $16,068,000

  • Collection System/Lift Station Upgrades (Bayou La Batre) - $13,189,150

  • Lillian Park Beach Habitat and Shoreline Protection - $645,254

  • Perch Creek Area Sanitary Sewer Trunk Line GIPP (MAWSS) - 3,665,048

  • Longevity, Stability & Water Quality Improvements, Bon Secour DMDA - $350,966

  • Replacement of Substandard Facilities at the ADEM Coastal Office & Mobile Field Office - $6,038,599

  • Mobile Area Storm Water Mapping & Resiliency Planning - $3,090,000

  • Three Mile Creek Watershed Restoration - $12,081,900

  • Fairhope Area Community-Based Comprehensive Land Use Plan - $669,500

  • Fort Morgan Parkway Trail Extension - $4,566,608

  • Meaher Park Improvements - $3,553,500

  • Mobile County Dirt Road Paving (Sediment Reduction) - $10,395,914

  • Alabama Point Seawall Repair - $2,562,640

  • Canal Road Improvements East of SR161 (Orange Beach) - $1,903,718

  • Orange Beach North Sewer Force Main Upgrade - $5,350,850

  • Storm Water Management Improvements for Toulmin Springs Branch and Gum Tree Branch (City of Mobile) - $1,222,744

  • Fairhope Sewer Upgrade Phase I - $10,300,000

  • Little Lagoon Restoration Project (Gulf Shores) - $6,175,557

  • Eastern Shore Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSOs) Prevention Plan - $1,030,000

  • One Mobile: Reconnecting People, Work and Play through Complete Streets - $1,287,500

  • Planning Grant to Amend SEP - $300,000

APPROVED PROJECTS FOR BUCKET 3 SLATE THAT ARE IN ORANGE BEACH:

Alabama Point Seawall Repair (City of Orange Beach) $2,562,640

The purpose of this project is to rebuild the existing Alabama Point Seawall with a more resilient method of construction for the tidally-influenced marine environment and to protect the recent improvements on the upland portion of the area. Implementation of this project will protect a unique and valuable public access point at Perdido Pass Seawall Park.

Canal Road Improvements East of State Road 161 (City of Orange Beach) - $1,903,718

This project will promote community resilience and economic growth by addressing the hindrance of economic development on Canal Road east of and near the SR-161 intersection in Orange Beach. Growth of businesses and the tourism industry in Orange Beach have led to increased traffic volumes, resulting in a need to enhance capacity and efficiency. This project will provide sufficient infrastructure improvements to allow the City of Orange Beach to safely address economic growth to benefit the local economy.

Environmental Restoration of Cotton Bayou & Terry Cove (City of Orange Beach) - $515,000

This project will provide planning assistance to develop Best Available Science (BAS) documentation needed to plan and carry out a comprehensive environmental study. Once completed, the BAS will be used to prepare an engineering plan and cost estimate for restoration of the Cotton Bayou/Terry Cove system in Orange Beach, Alabama. The Cotton Bayou/Terry Cove system is located in the heart of Orange Beach, Alabama, and is a component of the larger Perdido Bay watershed, which is connected to the Gulf of Mexico by the Perdido Pass. The canals, marshes, and other shallow waters of the Cotton Bayou/Terry Cove system have historically served as nursery habitat for aquatic and avian wildlife. Over time, human development and re-development has replaced much of the natural shoreline with seawalls and other structures. Historically poor storm water run-off management, natural extreme tropical storm events, and an ongoing rapidly growing population may have contributed to sediment has accumulated in ways that disrupt natural hydrodynamic mixing. These and other unknown factors are contributing to sedimentation buildup and water quality degradation; as well as, highly fluctuating temperatures, salinity, and dissolved oxygen concentrations, which may be driving algae blooms, fish kills, and other indicators of poor ecological health. The goal of this project is to develop a science-based, comprehensive understanding of the factors governing the environmental and ecological health of the Cotton Bayou/Terry Cove system, leading to a scientifically-defensible plan for restoring the ecological and environmental health within this system.

Expansion of the Orange Beach Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center/Gulf Coast Wildlife Recovery and Interpretative Center - $472,255

This project proposal consists of two components: 1) the immediate expansion of the current Orange Beach Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center to address critical capacity needs for rehabilitating a variety of injured wildlife species (construction of flight/pre-conditioning enclosures); and 2) the planning and design of a larger, permanent Gulf Coast Wildlife Recovery and Interpretive Center in the City of Orange Beach, Alabama. The vision for this permanent facility is to effectively support the needs of the Alabama Gulf Coast region and potentially provide assistance for areas to the east into the Florida panhandle and to the west into Mississippi. It is anticipated the permanent facility will provide on-site rehabilitation and serve as a multi-facility coordinator for wildlife rehabilitation services on a regional scale for a variety of species, while also offering tourism and stewardship opportunities. This component of the project proposes the initial planning and design groundwork for such a regionallysignificant facility and associated program coordination. As part of the development of the plan, Orange Beach staff will seek to partner with other coastal municipalities, state and federal agencies, applicable non-profits and NGOs, and universities to conduct a variety of analyses and benchmarking. Once these efforts are completed, a conceptual framework for the facility and its programs will be developed to economically and effectively improve our Gulf Coast region’s preparedness and capacity to respond to incidents impacting wildlife

Auburn University Gulf Coast Engineering Research Station in Orange Beach - $9,270,000

This project proposes the planning, engineering and design, and construction to establish the Auburn University Gulf Coast Engineering Research Station (GCERS). In addition, the proposed activity includes two years’ operation and maintenance. The GCERS will be led by the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering at Auburn University in collaboration with the City of Orange Beach, and with opportunities for collaboration with other institutions. The vision is to develop a world-class research facility where engineers and collaborating applied scientists from private and public institutions in Alabama can engage in fundamental and applied engineering rese

Orange Beach North Sewer Force Main Upgrade (City of Orange Beach) - $5,350,850

This project consists of the replacement of approximately 8 miles of sewer force main from a point on Highway 180 in Orange Beach to an existing lift station on County Road 12. The area benefitted by this upgrade will include areas north and east of Wolf Bay to Josephine as well as areas directly served by the force main. Implementation of this project will improve water quality in Wolf Bay by preventing failures in the existing main and decreasing the use of on-site septic systems.

NOTABLE PROJECT PROPOSED FOR BUCKET 3:

Characterization and Delineation of Significant Sand Resource Areas Essential for Beach Restoration, Offshore Alabama (Geological Survey of Alabama) - $950,175

This planning assistance project will support coastal restoration efforts by promoting sand resource identification and assessing the feasibility of dredging State and outer continental shelf (OCS) sand deposits. The data needed to fully identify “beach quality” sands does not exist, and there is not an updated platform to examine and disseminate this knowledge. In order to maintain and improve coastal infrastructure, economic, and coastal habitat resiliency, viable nearshore sand sources suitable for beach placement are essential. Moreover, the need to identify sand sources through further data assimilation and collection has never been greater. Beach restoration does not ensure a long-term solution to erosive influences such as storms and rising sea level. Infrastructure, tourism, storm protection, and ecosystem services are dependent upon a stable beach environment driving the need for long-term beach maintenance. Offshore sand resources are essential to the maintenance of amenity beaches and the intertidal and beach habitat they provide. The Cities of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, as well as the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, have acknowledged the essential importance of Alabama’s gulf-fronting beaches through previous investments in offshore “beach compatible” sand searches and nearshore dredging and placement in needed areas. This is a significant financial investment that should be appreciated both in the state and by those with an interest in Gulf of Mexico resources. Gulf-fronting beaches along Baldwin and Mobile Counties, Alabama, are continuously monitored by Olsen Associates, Inc. (City of Gulf Shores, City of Orange Beach, Gulf State Park) and the Geological Survey of Alabama (GSA/Fort Morgan Peninsula, Dauphin Island). Both entities are familiar with the stress that natural (e.g., hurricanes) and human-induced (e.g., oil spill response and recovery) disasters can bring to the beach ecosystem and acknowledge the benefits of maintained beaches to the region. The economic importance of Alabama’s coastal area is intrinsically linked to the condition of Alabama’s Gulf-fronting beaches.