Enhancement of bioretention to promote civic hydrology and sustainability for coastal cities through innovative planning, design, and engineering

End Date: 06/30/2010


The city of Mobile, AL is projected to experience significant growth and development over the coming years. This project focuses on developing innovative planning and design techniques for addressing stormwater management with emphasis on the highly urbanized downtown core and its impact on Mobile Bay. We seek to discover and develop improved methodologies that serve multiple benefits to the city including: the mitigation of impacts from coastal storm surges, remediation of stormwater runoff, urban ecological sustainability, and aesthetic enhancement to one of America’s most beautiful urban waterfront landscapes. Project objectives include: 1) Increase coastal urban sustainability through retention and remediation (bioretention) of stormwater including the reclamation of stormwater saved (diverted) by innovative science-based technologies; 2) Flood prevention enhancement through development of a green infrastructure plan to harness and utilize natural processes; and 3) Provide enhancement toward improving quality of life in the urban core, complementing the trend of residential population growth in the city center by reducing urban floods through inventive stormwater management designs. Leveraged benefits for the project’s civic hydrology outcomes include enhancement of the city’s pedestrian connectivity and accessibility, increased greenspace, and overall livability within a coastal-edge city.


Urban planning and design methods will be employed including: 1) an assessment of existing conditions, and case study analysis; 2) suitability analysis for economic development; 3) on-site design charrette to initiate public involvement; 4) design concepts, graphics and text deliverables that reflect design testing and feasibility analysis including scenario development and design overlays; 5) companion professional engineering studies including civil, water resources and environmental engineering; 6) feasibility analysis and phasing plan for implementation with estimated funding requirements; and  7) creation of a template for technology transfer, final report and  dissemination though conferences and journal submissions. The overall goal is to apply for additional funding to build a demonstration site in downtown Mobile.


Mobile Bay is under stress due to population growth and urbanization in its contributing watersheds. Non-point source (NPS) pollution is a major contributor of pollutants. Inevitable urban growth and development and downtown flooding issues need to be holistically and sensibly addressed by government officials, planners, academia, designers, engineers and others, in ways that are environmentally protective and economically prudent.  This project will help to address these issues by incorporating low impact best management practices such as bioretention, permeable paving, grass swales, ect. as water quality mitigation/ floodwater prevention tools to lessen the impacts of downtown flooding and nonpoint source pollution associated with urban areas.  Planning, design and engineering results generated by this study will be helpful to communities, watershed groups, private industry, and other stakeholders working to protect, conserve or restore water quality and target outreach efforts in coastal cities. The proposed research in this project directly falls under the Strategic Actions 4, 9, and 10 of Priority Theme Area 1, and Strategic Action 1, 4, 5, 7 of Priority Theme Area 2, listed in 2006-2010 MASGC Strategic Plan.


Final report