Outfall Challenge could lead to a cleaner Mississippi Sound - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Outfall Challenge could lead to a cleaner Mississippi Sound

Three  teams of scientists and environmental experts have been chosen to pave the way to a cleaner Mississippi Sound. (Photo source: WLOX) Three teams of scientists and environmental experts have been chosen to pave the way to a cleaner Mississippi Sound. (Photo source: WLOX)
HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) -

In some areas, warning signs alert beach goers of high bacteria levels in the Mississippi Sound; advising people to stay out of the water.

Three teams of scientists and environmental experts have been chosen to pave the way to a cleaner Mississippi Sound with the Beach Outfalls Challenge. The goal: to make sure runoff flowing into the water after heavy rain carries less pollution. 

“This was an opportunity to get the public involved and get as many ideas on the table to look at how to address the stormwater issues flowing into the Gulf,” Marc Wyatt with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality explained.

Cleaning the water can be done in several ways. 

“We need to find a way to filter the water and that's done through vegetation," said Allison Anderson, Team Salt. "The other way is to slow the water, to slow the flush of water.” 

Jeff Ballweber represents Team SOS.

“We need to break up that kind of sterile man-made beach frontage that you've got and intersperse it with some natural marsh and beach environments,” Ballweber said. 

A third option comes from Steve Oivanki with Team GBRC Compton.

“Well, basically, we put a modified septic tank system into the area. It's worked for 100 years in rural septic systems. We take the first half inch and filter it out into the sand beach through soft rains," said Oivanki. 

While the initial phase of the beach outfalls challenge doesn't involve the aesthetics of the drainage pipes leading into the Sound, it could come in the future.

“Essentially, the look like oil pipelines or some sort of sewage pipes, but they're really, really old so they don't look like they're working right now,” tourist Bylynda Bridges said.

If the Outfall Challenge succeeds aesthetics won't be a concern in the future.

The program is being administered by the Department of Environmental Quality and is funded with Restore Act money.  Actual work along the beachfront could begin within the next 18 to 24 months.

Copyright 2017 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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