FOLEY – The city of Foley is working to expand its stormwater management program with a new plan that could improve drainage and reduce storm damage along the Bon Secour River.

The City Council voted Monday, March 18, to apply for a grant from the Alabama Coastal Management Program. The funding would pay some of the cost to develop a stormwater management plan for the Bon Secour River.

Leslie Gahagan, Foley environmental director, said management plans are already improving stormwater management in other areas of the city.

“A portion of the Beulah Heights area has a stormwater plan,” Gahagan said. “We’re underway with the Magnolia River. We’d like to apply for some funding to start with the Bon Secour River. This would be a stormwater management plan working with our existing infrastructure, seeing where we might have priority projects to fund in the future.”

Flood management plans in other areas of Foley have helped improve drainage and reduce storm damage. 

In the Beulah Heights community, drainage was improved on Wolf Creek after flooding from heavy rains washed out a portion of South Pecan Street in 2014.

After the improvements, the roadway was rebuilt to better standards and was not damaged in later storms, including the heavy rains from Hurricane Sally in 2020.

Foley began working in 2023 to clear debris and improve drainage along the Bon Secour River in the city. Some of the debris cleared from the drainage area had washed into the river after Hurricane Sally struck the Gulf Coast.

Gahagan said Monday that the stormwater management plan will help identify future projects, such as public works drainage improvements.

“It tells us where we need to look at increasing our ditch sizes and things like that, so it’s something good to have on hand,” she said.

She said city crews also plan to install several additional  litter traps along the river in the near future. The traps remove garbage from waterways for disposal or recycling and allow officials to study what kind of debris is being washed into streams.

Mayor Ralph Hellmich said the plan would also help Foley’s efforts to receive more funding for future projects.

“Having these types of plans helps us with grants,” Hellmich said., “It’s really imperative to have this. If you don’t have a plan, they’re not going to give you anything.”

If the Alabama Coastal Management Program approves the grant, the city could be eligible for up to $50,000 in funding.

The Bon Secour River drainage area includes part of downtown Foley extending to near U.S. 98 and Alabama 59 and extends south through the Aaronville community. The area also extends as far north as Orchid Avenue and includes some of the city schools, such as Foley Elementary and Mathis Elementary.