The West Florida Regional Planning Council Environmental Education section main objective is to assist in improving the area's quality of life and the waters of the Pensacola Bay System through community participation and coordination with local governments, citizens, academia, and the private sector. This objective is achieved primarily through the activities of the Bay Area Resource Council (B.A.R.C.) and it's subcommittees.
B.A.R.C. was spawned from the Escambia/Santa Rosa Coast Resource Planning and Management Committee created in February 1985 by then Governor Bob Graham. An inter-local agreement between Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties and the Cities of Pensacola and Gulf Breeze was established in May 1987 to solidify the organization into an entity that could accept funding and promote goals of the committee. The City of Milton has since joined the B.A.R.C. Advisory Committees for citizens and scientists were established to help identify and develop action items and projects for the Pensacola Bay System. Information presented to and approved by the B.A.R.C. may then be forwarded to the individual units of local government for consideration.
The purpose in forming B.A.R.C. is to engage in agreements or contracts with public and private entities for assistance in planning, financing and managing the physical, chemical, biological, economic and aesthetic aspects of the Bay System; share information gathered for local planning purposes; and develop a restoration program for the Pensacola Bay System (PBS).
The Pensacola Bay Watershed
A Multi-State, Multi-County Basin
A watershed is defined as an area where all surface waters drain to a single common place. A number of rivers and creeks in west Florida and south-central Alabama flow into this single place... Pensacola Bay. Only one third of the bay system's 7,000 square mile watershed is within Florida. The remaining two thirds are in Alabama. The map above shows the extent of the watershed and location of counties in the basin. Theoretically, the furthest drop of water from Pensacola Bay enters the watershed about eight miles east of Union Springs (Bullock County), Alabama at about 550 feet above sea level at the source of Old Town Creek.
Since the watershed lies in two states and includes portions of fifteen counties, achieving goals for clean water are compounded. This is unlike the peninsula of Florida, where drainage basins lie entirely within Florida's boundaries. Differing regulations, water quality standards, land use practices, best management practices, public/private sector interests and goals create an array of problems. It takes dedicated individuals from many walks of life to work together to manage a watershed as large as the Pensacola Bay System area. This includes politicians and local government staff members, land and homeowners, agricultural and silvicultural interests, developers, public land managers, industry, citizens, and others.
The Pensacola Bay watershed includes portions of the following counties and estimated percentages of each county's surface area within the watershed:
In Alabama - Escambia (90%), Covington (90%), Conecuh (99%), Butler (75%), Crenshaw (95%), Pike (40%), Montgomery (10%), Bullock (20%), Coffee (2%), Loundes (1%), Monroe (2%).
Municipalities often include more concentrated development patterns and add to the number of direct point discharges to the watershed system, as well as increased non-point discharge sources of water (i.e. parking lots, road and rooftop drainage, etc. Florida municipalities in the basin include Pensacola, Century, Milton, Gulf Breeze, Jay, Crestview, Laurel Hill, Mary Esther, Paxton and DeFuniak Springs.
Watersheds are made up of hundreds of named water bodies. Since Pensacola Bay is at the bottom of the watershed, numerous tributaries lead into the system. Some of its most notable water bodies are listed below (with links, when possible, provided to the EPA's Surf Your Watershed website):
Bays: Pensacola, Escambia, East, Blackwater
Sounds/Lagoons: Santa Rosa Sound, Big Lagoon
Bayous: Grande, Chico, Texar, Indian, Trout, Mulatto
Rivers/Creeks: Escambia, Conecuh (lower and upper), Yellow (including Shoal), Blackwater (including Big Juniper/Sweetwater, Pond Creek and the Coldwaters), East Bay River, Patsaliga, Sepulga, and hundreds of smaller tributaries.