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Bioremediation of Beach Creek, Jekyll Island, Through Shellfish Restoration

PIs: Alan Power (Univ of Georgia Marine Extension Service), Randal Walker (Univ of Georgia Marine Extension Service), and Keith Gates (Univ of Georgia Marine Extension Service)

Support: EPD Section 319(h)

Timeframe: November 2006-October 2009

Project Overview:

         St. Andrews Beach on Jekyll Island is experiencing chronic bacterial non point source pollution which has resulted in numerous advisories at the popular beach site.  Source tracking studies funded by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources indicate that Beach Creek directly to the north is a major source of this contamination.  The pathogens are thought to originate from wildlife that is abundant throughout the creeks largely undeveloped marshy watershed.  As a result environmental management options are limited. Our objective is to enhance shellfish populations (oysters and clams) throughout the creek and to use their remarkable filtration capabilities to remove excessive bacteria from the water column and reduce or eliminate the detrimental effects upon Jekyll Island’s tourism trade.
     The project will be conducted over a three-year period and will mirror the GEORGIA (Generating Enhanced oyster reefs in Georgia’s Inshore Areas) restoration efforts ongoing in the Savannah area.  1610m2 of oyster shell will be planted along the creek bank, and 10,000 clams purchased from commercial hatcheries will be distributed throughout its length.  Pre- and post-water quality testing will be performed to determine impacts on water quality water. 
     This project is expected to increase essential fish habitat, to provide stabilization of the salt-marsh against erosion, to educate the public about non-point source pollution, to reduce fecal contamination in the waters at St. Andrews Beach on Jekyll Island and to eliminate beach closings and their negative impacts on the local economy.  Moreover, the project will serve as a demonstration of successful mitigation techniques that can be used in other impaired estuarine waters to improve the water quality and reduce the number of non-compliant stream segments. In addition this project should provide positive media coverage illustrating how government entities (GaDNR, EPD & UGA) can solve local problems that benefit the coastal economy.

Coastal Marshland Protection Permits have been submitted.  A public shell drop off center has been opened on Jekyll Island.

Information about GEORGIA is available at http://www.shellfish.uga.edu/oysterrest.html.

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This page was updated October 13, 2006