MDEQ’s Mississippi Comprehensive Ecosystem Restoration Tool

Author(s): Strange, T.

As a result of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill (DWH), Mississippi is working to restore the health and ensure sustainability of the coastal landscape affected by the spill. To ensure sustainable restoration is achieved, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund (GEBF) agreed that an ecosystem restoration plan was needed in Mississippi. They approved to fund the development of the Mississippi Restoration Plan. One of primary goals of the Plan is to develop the Mississippi Comprehensive Ecosystem Restoration Tool (MCERT), which is a science-based tool for identifying and examining ecological resources and stressors at a landscape/seascape scale and that allows for improved restoration planning and informed decision making. MCERT represents a suite of geospatial analysis models that provide data products to describe the terrestrial landscape and the marine and water quality conditions in south Mississippi. Two of the MCERT components deal directly with water quality and watershed characterization. The water quality model integrates the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT). We calculated a 2006-2013 simulation of water, sediment, and nutrient flow in the Pearl, Pascagoula, and Mississippi Coastal basins, as well as indices of change between these and the outputs from an earlier 1987-1994 simulation of the same area to highlight broad indicators of water quality change within the study area using three primary parameters: sediment, nitrogen, and phosphorus at the subwatershed and stream reach level. Stream gauge data from the USGS and observed sediment and nutrient loading data points from the MDEQ are used to calibrate the model to better reflect field conditions. The watershed characterization component of the tool uses derived spatial data, including environmental resource and stressor/threat data, as inputs and aggregates the information to characterize subwatersheds by quantifying the amount, weighting, scoring, and normalizing of the input data. Within each subwatershed, various datasets are assigned values and are adjusted, normalized, and ranked relative to one another. Data inputs include but are not limited to SWAT outputs, dam storage ratios, protected areas, T & E species presence, ecological hubs and corridors, and a landscape development index (LDI). The Mississippi Restoration Team uses these tools to identify hotspots and areas of interest as well as simulate best management practices to quantify restoration scenarios across the landscape. Manipulation of climatic, hydrologic, and land use inputs offers further potential for modeling future scenarios, incorporating both agricultural and non-agricultural management practices, at various spatial and temporal scales.

Download presentation

Go back


Past Conference Archive