Because the area’s problems with stormwater management and pollution are exacerbated by many sources, addressing them requires an equally diversified response and buy-in from local governments, businesses, private organizations and everyday citizens.
A good example of this type of collaboration is the work nonprofit groups such as the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program (MBNEP) have done to plan and implement better runoff infrastructure on both sides of the bay. However, private industry has an equal interest in ensuring sustainable and healthy growth can be achieved along Alabama’s Gulf Coast.
That is one reason the Clean Water Future campaign was created. Clean Water Future is a joint effort between MBNEP and Partners for Environmental Progress (PEP), a coalition of industry and education leaders dedicated to science-based, environmentally conscious practices in business and community activities.
In addition to raising awareness about issues such as stormwater runoff and the pollution it carries, Clean Water Future aims to make protecting local waterways simpler by forming beneficial partnerships, sharing information and techniques, and providing accessible online resources.
“We’ve been very involved from the beginning of this program because we feel strongly that businesses and employers should want to do everything we can to ensure we can always enjoy clean water,” PEP Executive Director Jennifer Denson said. “A good quality of life and a clean environment are so very important to economic growth and development in our area.”
Denson said industry and manufacturing leaders have an extra incentive to get involved and get vocal about point-source pollution because they are often the first to be blamed when water pollution is detected. The reality, according to Denson, is the biggest impact on water quality comes from residential runoff, littering and sediment erosion entering the local water system.
Some industry partners involved with Clean Water Future have already been recognized for various environmental contributions. Other than recruiting businesses to get involved in solving the environmental challenges unique to the Mobile area, Denson said part of PEP’s mission is to highlight those already involved — something PEP does in a number of ways including its own annual Environmental Stewardship Awards.
“We just want show that anyone and any business can be involved in these types of projects and take steps toward improving and securing the water quality in our area,” she added. “Of course, we look at it from the business angle, but the entire Clean Water Future campaign is about everybody. Whether it’s businesses, individuals or government agencies — we all have something we can do.”