Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2017AL186B

SIGNIFICANCE OF THE COASTAL SEDIMENTS AS A SOURCE/SINK OF NUTRIENTS TO COASTAL WATERS IN THE MOBILE BAY

Institute: Alabama
Year Established: 2017 Start Date: 2017-03-01 End Date: 2018-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $24,948 Total Non-Federal Funds: $49,930

Principal Investigators: Natasha Dimova

Abstract: J. Identification and Statement of the major water problem. Despite the small area that occupies, the coastline of Alabama is extremely biologically diverse. The unique biological diversity of the ecosystem is however currently threatened by an increase in population density, hydrologic modifications, erosion, and invasive species that have led to poor water quality, altered salinities, increased sediment loads and habitat loss, which indirectly impacts the local economy. Based on a recent report by NOAA (2013), if the states of the Gulf Coast Region were combined to form a country, they would have the seventh-largest gross domestic product in the world. The maintenance of this economic strength relies heavily on the natural resources of the region. Commercial fishing generates over $800 million in landings in the Gulf Coast Region (National Marine Fisheries Service, 2012) is one of the largest contributors (after oil and gas exploration and tourism). Specifically, in Alabama, the fisheries account for about 6.5% of the total commercial seafood profit in the Gulf region (Figure 1). Seafood harvesting, processing, and sales generate an economic impact on the region of over $10 billion, making the Gulf Coast second only to Alaska for seafood harvest in the U.S. (Coastal Recovery Commission, 2010). In a statement on the Clean Water Rule in May 2015, President Obama emphasized that Too many of our waters have been left vulnerable to pollution(https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press office/2015/05/26/statement-president-clean-water-rule). Restoring the Gulf of Mexico(GoM)coastal waters and associated ecosystems is a major problem and a primary goal of the current administration. Government actions ultimately will be based on the best available science in a form that is useful for management decisions. The proposed research directly addresses an important coastal management problem and aims to develop a fundamental understanding of the mechanisms controlling the quality of groundwater as one of the major contributors of nutrients (and contaminants) to coastal Alabama waters. Specifically, the proposed research will target areas that were previously identified as hotspots of over-nitrification and harmful algae blooms (HABs). These areas have been of economic and health concern to various Gulf Coast stakeholders in Alabama.