Coalition to address watershed management issues, promote stormwater management in Baldwin County

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MOBILE, AL, Feb. 22, 2010 -- Gresham, Smith and Partners, a leading multi-disciplinary design and consulting firm to the built environment, announces it has been retained by the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program (MBNEP) to work with the Baldwin County Watershed Coalition (BCWC) Steering Committee. The BCWC is a cooperative public/private regional volunteer coalition watershed management program. The program will be aimed at supporting local communities in managing flooding, drainage and issues related to stormwater runoff in Baldwin County while preserving and improving water quality and the use of local water resources.

The BCWC was a grassroots initiative created by local stakeholders within Baldwin County due to negative impacts resulting from tremendous development growth that has enhanced the economy but brought the need for smart growth to manage stormwater runoff. Coordinating stormwater management will protect community health, safety, protect property values, and encourage environmental stewardship of Mobile Bay, its tributaries and subwatersheds, and Alabama Coastal waters. The voluntarily organized public/private partnership includes local governments, legislators, business and commercial interests, citizen environmental organizations and other stakeholders in Baldwin County.

"Baldwin County receives more than 66 inches of rain annually and the resulting stormwater runoff contributes to flooding, erosion and sedimentation, and urban development pollution," Roberta Arena Swann, Director MBNEP. "The effects impact our tourism industry, recreational opportunities, and commercial benefits of our watersheds as well as decrease aesthetics and property values. We seek to resolve long-standing problems and promote future stewardship of the Bay, its subwatersheds, and Alabama coastal waters through the development of this comprehensive watershed management program."

Due to limited public works budgets resulting from mandated but unfunded stormwater regulatory compliance and local and national economic conditions, local area governments are facing increased demands to react to these complex and interrelated issues. State legislation specific to Baldwin County was passed to allow for the creation of a public corporation that can implement a stormwater utility authorized to collect stormwater service fees to support improvement project recommendations from the BCWC. A referendum will be placed before the voters of Baldwin County in November 2010 to approve the creation of the public corporation. GS&P will help to advise and create the format and details of a rate structure and the process to both charge service fees and collect revenues.

"Our team will work with Baldwin County to establish a successful stormwater utility and program that protects the region's natural resources and properties through recommendations that promote smart growth and proactive management, therefore avoiding the impacts of urbanized stormwater runoff," commented David Pyzoha, P.E., Project Manager, Gresham, Smith and Partners. "This broad scope of member organizations and stakeholders who have come together for this project offer a unique voluntary alliance not commonly found with stormwater management programs across the United States. In addition to advising the BCWC with institutional, technical, financial and public involvement considerations, we will develop a program which makes the most of accommodating growth demands in concert with the mission of the Baldwin County Watershed Coalition."

In addition to work with the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program and Baldwin County Watershed Coalition, under contract to Weston Solutions, GS&P provided final design, plans and specifications services for the civil, mechanical, system hydraulic and structural aspects of the 17th Street and London Avenue Canal stormwater pumping stations in New Orleans for the US Army Corps of Engineers. The pumping stations are designed to move storm water from within the City of New Orleans levy system to Lake Pontchartrain in the event of a major storm surge that requires closure of the canal flood gates. The improvements to these two pumping stations increased the overall pumping capacity of the 17th Street Canal and the London Avenue Canal facilities by 5.3 billion gallons per day.

About GS&P
Gresham, Smith and Partners provides design and consulting solutions for the built environment that contribute to the success of national and international clients. For more than 40 years, GS&P has focused on enhancing quality of life and sustainability within communities. GS&P consists of industry-leading professionals practicing architecture and engineering design as well as scientists and highly specialized planning and strategic consultants in Water Services, Transportation, Land Planning, Aviation, Corporate and Urban Design, Environmental Compliance, Healthcare and Industrial Design Services. GS&P consistently ranks among the top architecture and engineering firms in the United States. For more information regarding GS&P, visit www.gspnet.com.

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