Bay St. Louis Water Pollution Study Shows Promising Results

The results are in on a comprehensive water pollution study conducted on the Bay of St. Louis and surrounding waterways.

The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality spent nearly 4 years identifying the different types and sources of the pollution. DEQ work crews looked at an 864 square mile area in and around the Bay. Using high tech water measuring devices to conduct a variety of water tests.

"We've got sewer discharge and urban run off going into the Bay," said Greg Jackson of the DEQ. The discharge and run off is what causes high levels of Bacteria in the waterways. In addition to treated waste water entering the Bay, the study showed pollution from failing septic tanks, storm water run-off wildlife and farm animals are polluting the Bay.

The DEQ says there needs to be a 27% reduction in bacteria levels in the Bay, but the DEQ looks for a 75% reduction in the urban run-off load in Edward's Watts and Joe's Bayous. "We found that the Bay is actually in good health as far as Fecal Coliform goes there are some reductions needed to get the Bay to a point where oyster's could be harvested from the Bay," said Jackson.

Oyster harvesting in the Bay has been off limits for 40 years, but that might change. Jackson says steps taken by County leaders to correct some of the pollution problems opens the doors to someday being able to open the oyster reefs.

"In this case Hancock County is already underway with improvements to the utility districts and to the treatment plants in the areas so this is a success story really for us to report," Jackson told WLOX.

If oyster reefs are re-opened officials say it would be a real coup for the County said Bryon Griffith from the Gulf Of Mexico Program Office. It would be a model that nationally would be of significance attention. That there are water ways all over this country who couldn't even begin to achieve these goals to turn the tide would be a real hall mark for South Mississippi Particularly Hancock County.

The DEQ's study cost nearly a million dollars.