GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Some of the BP settlement money needs to be spent on improving water quality in the Mississippi Sound. That's the message from an environmental group that gathered on the beach in Gulfport Thursday afternoon.
The group says water quality in the Mississippi Sound affects everyone along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
"It is so important," group leader Sharon Hayes said. "And when we talk to people about this issue, they are just all over it. It is the lifeblood of everything we do here on the coast. It is part of our way of life, part of our culture, but it's also part of our economy."
Beach advisories are one concern the group points out. Nearly two dozen water bacteria advisories have been posted along the beachfront so far this year.
Brenda Boothe says that keeps her visiting grand children from enjoying the water.
"It was so sad last year when, because of all the advisories and my fear of the diseases that they could contract, that they couldn't go in the water," said Boothe.
Storm water drains that run into the Mississippi Sound have been an eyesore for years. But those drains also contribute to water quality concerns.
Think for a minute what goes into your typical neighborhood storm water drain. Rainfall, sure. But rainfall mixed with lawn chemicals, gasoline, even dog waste. That mixture flows into the drain, and just a short time later it drains out into the Mississippi Sound.
"We have broken sewage pipes, we have septic tank systems that aren't working well. We have runoff. So, we have a lot of bacteria in the water," said Hayes.
"We hope to be that squeaky wheel. We think we can get enough people interested that care about the water quality and would be willing to support this," said Boothe.