Project to improve Little Lagoon water quality, environment gets funding through $5.9M grant

By GUY BUSBY
Government Editor
guy@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 6/15/22

GULF SHORES — A joint project between Gulf Shores and several universities and agencies will restore the water quality and environment in Little Lagoon, supporters said.At the Gulf Shores City …

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Project to improve Little Lagoon water quality, environment gets funding through $5.9M grant

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GULF SHORES — A joint project between Gulf Shores and several universities and agencies will restore the water quality and environment in Little Lagoon, supporters said.

At the Gulf Shores City Council work session, Monday, June 6, Dan Bond, environmental grants coordinator, said the city would receive a $5.9 million grant through an agreement with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to improve the lagoon.

The grant will be paid with money from the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast Act, known as RESTORE.

"This RESTORE project is a partnership with Auburn University Fisheries, University of South Alabama, Dauphin Island Sea Lab and Mississippi State Extension Service to implement programs that improve water quality and increase and enhance habitat and improve ecological productivity within the lagoon system," Bond said.

The project will include a shellfish restoration program as well as converting about 200 septic systems to the city sewer system. Other programs include creating about 1,000 feet of living shoreline and shoreline habitat projects, hydrologic activity improvements, hydrodynamic modeling and monitoring of the lagoon and seagrass restoration programs, Bond said.

The project team will also work with community groups including the Little Lagoon Preservation Society and Gulf Shores High School's Sustainability Academy to develop opportunities for volunteer involvement in public outreach and education, he said.
Dennis Hatfield, president of the Little Lagoon Preservation Society, said the project will be a major benefit for the waterway and the community.

"Kudos to the city, to Dan, to everybody involved in this project," Hatfield told council members. "The LLPS strongly supports it. It's a good move."

The city will administer the funding of the project and oversee other agencies taking part in the work, Bond said. Gulf Shores will be the program manager for the project and will oversee professional services including planning, costing, survey, geotechnical engineer and environmental-permitting inspections, according to city reports.

Little Lagoon is a brackish coastal waterway about 8 miles long and three-quarters of a mile wide that flows into the Gulf of Mexico at East Beach. Fresh water flows into the lagoon from Lake Shelby, Middle Lake, Little Lake in the Gulf State Park to the west and Gator Lake in the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge to the west.

The RESTORE grant will pay 100% of the costs, according to city reports.

The RESTORE Act distributes money from civil and administrative penalties from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill to states affected by the incident. The lagoon was directly affected by the spill and, in 2018, the $5.9-million grant for the Little Lagoon Restoration Project was approved.

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