Lt. Gov. Reeves briefed on Gulf crisis during Gulfport visit

Lt. Gov. Reeves briefed on gulf crisis during Gulfport visit

GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Mississippi is looking for solutions to deal with a crisis. Fisheries, marine mammals and the economy are all being affected by the intrusion of fresh water from the Mississippi River.

Local and state leaders are working with scientists to measure the damage and make sure Mississippi has a say in determining its future. Alarm bells are going off along Coastal Mississippi after two openings of the Bonnet Carré Spillway in Louisiana to alleviate flooding. Trillions of gallons of freshwater from the Mississippi River are pouring into the Mississippi Sound.

Oyster reefs have been all but destroyed, salinity levels are near zero, meaning the seafood industry and commercial fishing are being impacted, and, of course, 125 dolphins and more than 145 sea turtles have died.

Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, on the campaign trail for governor, arrived at The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies Wednesday for a briefing from Coast officials and scientists.

“The fact of the matter is there are challenges to be creative. We have to be prepared to deal with it long term. It’s not just to deal with it in this particular year. We have to work long term to find solutions that protect our gulf,” Reeves said.

The current environmental conditions border on catastrophic.

“This year, we have a lot of economic downturn because this opening has been prolonged. The water is having an impact not only on our marine resources but on the local economy,” according to Joe Jewell with Department of Marine Resources.

Marine biologists with the University of Southern Mississippi are heavily involved in the mission to measure the impact.

“This is a crisis mode. Whether or not this is going to be a long-term event that’s going to have a devastating impact is yet to be seen,” said Monty Graham from USM.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers makes the ultimate decision on opening the spillway. Mississippi wants an opportunity to play a role in the process.

“I think Mississippi deserves a seat at the table because it’s Mississippians being affected by decisions being made by the federal government, outside our control. That’s something our congressional delegation needs to continue to work hard on. They’ve been working very hard on that," Reeves said.

Besides the congressional delegation, coast mayors and the Harrison County Board of Supervisors have all declared that they want to be involved in future decisions regarding the Bonnet Carré Spillway.

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