Mobile Baykeeper: Protecting the Beauty, Health, and Heritage of Mobile Bay
Mobile Baykeeper is a community environmental organization working to provide citizens with a means of protecting the beauty, health, and heritage of the Mobile Bay Watershed and its coastal communities. The health of our community is only as good as the health of the Bay and the rivers, creeks, and streams that feed into it. Mobile Baykeeper is a member of the water-focused environmental organization, Waterkeeper Alliance. The Alliance is a global consortium of more than 320 Waterkeeper organizations dedicated to preserving water quality and accessibility worldwide.
THE MOBILE BAYKEEPER
CASI CALLAWAY is the baykeeper and the executive director of the environmental organization. She is responsible for coordinating public education, community organizing, research, and fundraising. Callaway grew up in Mobile with a love for its beaches and various bodies of water. She graduated from Emory University in Atlanta with a degree in Philosophy and Ecology. She held several environmental positions around the southeast and in Washington, D. C. before returning home to lead Mobile Baykeeper. “There’s no place like home, I guess! The pull to come back here, and to work to make a difference in my community, was very strong,” says Callaway. In recognition of her efforts to preserve Mobile Bay for over 20 years, and particularly for her efforts during the Deepwater Horizon disaster, Waterkeeper Alliance recognized Callaway as one of twenty “Waterkeeper Warriors” worldwide.
Mobile Baykeeper’s mission statement reads as follows: “Our mission is to provide citizens a means to protect the beauty, health, and heritage of the Mobile Bay Watershed and our coastal communities.” The means to accomplish this are threefold:
RESEARCH: Investigate the policies, regulations, and science behind every issue affecting our waterways to understand any problems and formulate solutions.
COLLABORATION: Form diverse partnerships with organizations and businesses to make a more significant impact while attaining our shared goals of clean water, clean air, and healthy communities.
EDUCATION: Armed with facts, educate our members, decision-makers, and the public about problems and solutions, and advocate for change when, where, and how it is most needed.
Mobile Baykeeper leads ongoing campaigns to educate and protect the community and the environment. Some of the most visible and critical are the following:
NOAA MARINE DEBRIS REMOVAL: In 2017, Baykeeper received a $56,000 grant from NOAA to design and implement a marine debris removal project. The project focused on One Mile Creek, which collects a prodigious amount of Mardi Gras litter – beads and other throws, food wrappers, bottles, and cans – through the city’s stormwater drain system. Baykeeper continues to work on this as an ongoing project while promoting a litter-free Mardi Gras celebration.
COAL ASH: Together with many other Alabama environmental organizations, Mobile Baykeeper is advocating for the removal of coal ash to upland, lined landfills using the best available technology standards. The purpose is to ensure all people, communities, and businesses in Alabama are out of harm’s way. The group continues to advocate recycling as much as possible in concrete.
STORMWATER: Continued land development and road-building practices wash mud, litter, and pollution into our creeks, rivers, and bays. The drainage impacts our aquatic food chain and affects those who use the waterways for recreation and livelihood. Mobile Baykeeper conducts Muddy Water Watch training sessions to engage citizens in understanding this issue.
SEWAGE SPILL NOTIFICATION: Mobile Baykeeper works to inform citizens of sewage spills and their effects on water quality and health. Their Sewer Spill Explorer tool provides current information on spills and the subsequent impacts. The group is working with partners throughout the state to petition the Alabama Department of Environmental Management to implement statewide standards for utilities to follow when reporting spills.
Mobile Baykeeper administers ongoing programs in the following areas of concern: sewer operations and wastewater treatment (SEWER), strategic watershed awareness and monitoring (SWAMP), and their Swim Guide app for iPod and Android devices. The app allows beachgoers to access water quality for area beaches.
Additionally, the organization continues restoration efforts in the aftermath of the BP Oil Disaster of 2010 and works with government and industry to ensure citizens have clean water, air, and healthy communities. It also focuses on transportation and storage of oil, gas, and other potentially toxic materials within the region. Litter and trash pollution are additional areas of concern. Baykeeper has developed litter cleanup toolkits available to groups and communities addressing this issue on the local and neighborhood levels.
Mobile Baykeeper hosts and sponsors numerous events each year to raise awareness and funds for its ongoing efforts. The public is invited and encouraged to participate in the many and varied activities.
BAY BASH 2019 takes place on Friday, November 22 at the Gulfquest Maritime Museum. This gala evening event is for persons 21 and over, and will be a celebration of the beauty, health, and heritage of Mobile Bay and our coastal communities. It will feature delicious local seafood from chefs, caterers, and restaurants in Mobile and Baldwin Counties as well as cocktails, live music, and a silent auction. Tickets are available through www.mobilebaykeeper.org.
Other Baykeeper events include the Publix Grandman Triathlon and the Publix Jubilee Kids’ Triathlon held in Fairhope each June, the annual Bay Awakening luncheon, the Bay Bites food truck festival and many more.
JOIN MOBILE BAYKEEPER
Membership in Mobile Baykeeper is for anyone impacted by its mission, cares about its activities, and enjoys its events. There are membership levels for every pocketbook, from the $10.00 student level to the $1,000.00 Heron level, and the Visionary Society level upward from there. Become a member online at www.mobilebaykeeper.org or by calling the office at (251) 433-4229.