Water advisories not enough to scare away visitors to Harrison County beach

Water advisories not enough to scare away visitors to Harrison County beach

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Water in six different areas of Harrison County beaches are unsafe to swim.

The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality says bacteria levels are too high from Edgewater Beach in Biloxi, all the way to west Pass Christian.

However, many people either don't know about the dangers - or don't care. An orange flag warning of unsafe water is the Mississippi beach welcome sign to some.

Once officials determine that bacterial levels are too high for the water, flags go up and the information is posted on all media platforms. But even then, some people - especially visitors - are unaware.

"I didn't notice the red signs until you told me what they were for," said Mike Yon of Arkansas. "I had no idea."

But, the enlightenment didn't stop Yon and friends from a good afternoon.

"I probably wouldn't have gotten in even if the red flags weren't up," Yon said. "I'm just going to sit out here, enjoy a good cigar and the breeze."

Oscar Vega of New Orleans was aware of the warnings ahead of time, but it didn't stop him and his family from enjoying the water; as they do two to three times a month.

"I feel it'd be safe for the kids and us," Vega said. "They've been playing all day already today."

The warnings posted by the Harrison County Sand Beach Authority can go only so far.

"If we're down there in the area and we're working and if we see somebody in the water, we'll definitely tell them," said Chuck Loftis, director of the Sand Beach Authority. "But, it's totally up to the general public to adhere to the signs and abide by them."

The warnings have given Stephanie Glasper of Jackson something to think about.

"It does make me a little alarmed. I'd like to know what extent is the bacteria," said Glasper. "We have been walking in the water, so I mean will this affect my skin later? Will I get a skin rash?"

The Holley sisters are split about the danger.

"Well, I don't feel comfortable swimming in it," said 12-year-old Jaquelyn Holly. "But, I like standing in the sand, playing in the sand more than I would like swimming in it."

Bacteria levels can increase for several reasons including significant rain and runoff and wind that stirs up sediment.

For specific advisory locations, click here to visit the MDEQ website.

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