The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality believes a Biloxi motel owner deliberately pumped raw sewage into the Mississippi Sound.
DEQ and city crews discovered the problem Thursday while they were trying to figure out the source of high levels of bacteria along the shoreline. The polluted water forced the DEQ to close the section of beach from Travia Avenue and Iberville drive on Wednesday.
Dominic Bui, who owns the "Super 8 Motel" on Beach Boulevard, is accused of causing the contamination. State DEQ officials say they plan to file civil charges against Bui for violating the Federal Clean Water Act and state environmental laws. Next week, the agency will decide whether to file criminal charges against him as well.
The city of Biloxi has already cited Bui for discharging of unhealthy substances and improper use of public sewer.
Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway said he can't believe why anyone would intentionally do this.
"I'm outraged that something like this would happen for the well being, safety and heath of our community," Holloway said.
Biloxi and Mississippi DEQ crews say the source of the contamination is a broken lift station behind the Super 8 Motel on Beach Boulevard. DEQ officials believe Bui installed a pump in the private lift station, and then ran a hose to the storm drain, which pumps untreated sewage right into the Mississippi Sound.
"I don't know why he did it, because he wasn't saving any money," Holloway said. "He wasn't bypassing any meter or anything, so he was still having to pay his water and sewer bill. Apparently, he didn't want to repair his lift station or buy another motor."
The discovery also shocked Jennifer Drawdy. For months, she has been baffled as to why the beach by her souvenir shop keeps closing because of contamination.
"That is a shame, it is a shame that our business owners don't have more respect for our beach, our tourists that come here to swim, our local people, it's gross," Drawdy said.
The news didn't surprise Herman Ramirez, a visitor from California. He says he's actually seen sewage floating in the water during his summer walks along the beach in Biloxi.
"I remember going back and telling my friends that they have such a beautiful, gorgeous beach, but they were just seem to be literally going to waste, not only the human waste that I observed, but also a lot of the trash that have been deposited," Ramirez said.
City and state officials say they plan to pursue the maximum penalties against Bui.
"He's going to have to fix his lift station," Holloway said. "That area will be monitored very closely by the city and DEQ. We're going to do what we can to make sure this doesn't happen again."
If found guilty, Bui he could face up to $1,000 in fines and up to six months in jail for each charge. He's scheduled to appear in Community Court on June 27th.
WLOX News tried to contact Bui, but he never returned our phone calls.