Harrison County supervisors discuss blowing sand - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Harrison County supervisors discuss blowing sand

Officials say the wind makes their job twice as difficult. (Photo source: WLOX News) Officials say the wind makes their job twice as difficult. (Photo source: WLOX News)

Unfortunately, Mr. Mayor, it's not that easy. That was the message Monday from Harrison County supervisors to Biloxi Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich, who recently shared a suggestion about keeping sand from blowing off the beach.

It's an all too common sight on the beachfront highway: Mississippi Department of Transportation crews removing wayward sand.

Gilich's suggestion to expose more steps of the sea wall, by lowering the sand profile, would likely reduce sand erosion. In fact, the county has tried doing that exact thing, but was met with opposition from the Army Corps of Engineers.

“When we met with the Corps of Engineers, they would not allow us to lower that sand beach profile more than approximately 36 inches. So, the Corps of Engineers will not allow us to push that sand away more than 36 inches from that sea wall,” said Supervisor Marlin Ladner.

The concern of the Army Corps relates to the integrity of the sea wall, which is designed to protect the highway from damage.

“If we push that sand away from the sea wall, and we have a storm, and the water comes up to that sea wall, it can get behind it and expose and endanger the sea wall. And once we endanger that sea wall, of course, we have a problem with the highway,” said Ladner.

Alternatives to lowering the sand profile include planting more sand dunes, something which has shown promise in reducing the blowing sand.

“The design is to build a dune and then have a trough that would catch it. Sometimes it works. Most of the time it does work. It just takes time and money to plant sand dunes up and down the beach,” said Supervisor Connie Rockco.

Harrison County has tried several ideas over the years to try and mitigate the blowing sand erosion. County leaders are open to any new approach.

“I would love to hear anything from any scientists or engineers or anybody else has that we have not tried. I think this board would be more than willing to hear it,” said Ladner.

Harrison County is also considering a $3 million sand re-nourishment project, which would bring in about 200,000 cubic yards of fresh sand to replenish the areas hardest hit by erosion.              

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