Predicting Urbanization in the Big Creek Lake Watershed, Alabama

EarthzineOriginal, Spring 2013 VPS

Image of big creek lake watershed. Credit DEVELOP

Image of big creek lake watershed. Credit DEVELOP

Image Credit DEVELOP

Authors: Marlena Giattina, Rachael Isphording, Shikher Mishra, James Pickett

Mentors/Advisers (affiliation): Joe Spruce (Computer Sciences Corporation, Stennis Space Center), Dr. Bernard Eichold (Mobile County Health Department), Dr. Kenton Ross (Langley Research Center), Karen Jordan (University of South Alabama)

Team Location: Mobile County Health Department, Mobile, Alabama

Abstract: To serve a growing population, Mobile County erected a dam across Big Creek in 1952 to create the current drinking water reservoir, Big Creek Lake. The last four years have seen the construction of a new highway to serve as U.S. Highway 98 at the headwaters of the reservoir. The Mobile Area Water and Sewer System (MAWSS) is concerned with potential development in the watershed that the new highway may bring. In order to assess the damage of an extended road system through the watershed, MAWSS and the DEVELOP Mobile office partnered to conduct research by modeling urban growth within the watershed with a focus on the developing highway’s influence using, the Slope, Land-use, Excluded, Urban, Transportation, Hillshade (SLEUTH) model. SLEUTH produced future urban extent images that were overlaid on current maps to show the projected urban growth within the watershed in upcoming years. MAWSS used this information in their efforts to protect the watershed and to continue improving Mobile County’s drinking water quality.