Biloxi River Residents Want Marine Debris Removal

The scenic beauty of the Biloxi River is marred by limbs and logs.

"Every day it seems like a new experience that you notice something else is in the river," said river resident Richard Rose, as he gave visitors a boat trip down the river.

And that storm debris is more than an eyesore.

"I don't even like to take my boat out here on the river anymore because of all the debris," said resident Steve Peterson, who lives along the Biloxi River.

It's easy to spot and avoid visible logs in the waterway. But anything beneath the surface could be dangerous to boaters.

"We need to get somebody out here to clean this up. These old boats and everything, somebody's going to get hurt," said Peterson.

"It's just got to get cleaned out for the health and safety of the citizens of Harrison County," said Rose, who has alerted several agencies to the problem.

"It just kind of keeps getting punted from one agency to another," he says.

A FEMA spokesman told me the agency has been expecting to hear complaints about marine debris in the rivers north of I-10, but he says there's a reason those waterways have been largely ignored so far.

The Department of Marine Resources determined which waterways are part of the clean-up.

"They're the ones that told us what they wanted us to clean up. And it did not include that area north of I-10," said FEMA operations chief Bob Johnson.

He says the state would be primarily responsible for expanding the clean-up northward.

"The waterways north of I-10 probably needs to be addressed by MEMA, which is the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, and determine who would be the appropriate agency to actually request the work and also to clean it up," says Johnson.

Residents don't mind which agency claims responsibility.

"I don't think anyone on this boat today or anyone on the river cares who cleans it up, as long as it gets cleaned up," said Rose.

FEMA and the Coast Guard are partners in the marine debris clean-up south of I-10. That work continues and is more than 70 percent finished.