Water quality on the Gulf of Mexico coast:
Lessons from the Grand Bay estuary

A first step to water quality improvement

This website was produced in response to stakeholder requests for up-to-date data on how human wastewater affects water quality on the northern Gulf of Mexico coast and to provide tangible recommendations for how members of the local community can help improve water quality.

Data shared on this webpage were collected as part of a 4-year study to define how human activities and urbanization (land-use change) have affected water quality in the region, using the Grand Bay estuary and nearby waters on the Mississippi-Alabama coast as a representative system. This information is now being applied in the Mobile Bay and Dog River Watersheds.

This webpage provides:

  1. Our Human Footprint—A summary of water quality problems common to the northern Gulf of Mexico and other coastal waters world-wide
  2. Grand Bay Estuary System—An introduction to the Grand Bay Estuary study site
  3. Methods & Results—Research methods and data collected during the study 
  4. What YOU Can Do—Recommendations for actions you can take to improve water quality and where to report concerns
  5. Take It With You—Use our water quality information packet to add value to your eco-tour business, classroom lessons, or public meeting.
  6. Resources—Additional information, including publications and monitoring data for your area.

This webpage is meant to be a living resource for end-users, and we welcome feedback on improvements and additions to our content.  Please email us with your suggestions.

Project team—The study, Legacy effects of land-use change & nitrogen source shifts on a benchmark system:  Building capacity for collaborative research leadership at the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, was conducted by a team of researchers from the Dauphin Island Sea lab (DISL; Dr. R.H. Carmichael, Dr. E. Darrow, E. Hieb), U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USFDA; Dr. W. Burkhardt, III; CDR K. Calci), University of Southern Mississippi (USM; Dr. W. Wu, Dr. E. Jackson), Auburn University (Dr. W. Walton), and the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR; Dr. A. Gray, Dr. M. Woodrey, K. Cressman) and stakeholder partner Eco-tours of South Mississippi (CAPT K. Wilkinson). The large-scale multidisciplinary research project and the transfer of scientific data through this webpage was funded by the NOAA NERR Science Collaborative (NSC).  Transfer partners additionally included University of North Carolina-Wilmington (E. Darrow) and the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program’s Create a Clean Water Future Campaign.

Learn more about the core project here:  Project factsheet