Mississippi will receive nearly $30 million from criminal penalties, stemming from the 2010 BP oil spill, for four restoration projects. MPB’s Evelina Burnett takes us to the beach in Pass Christian with more.
Water laps against a large pipe jutting out of the sand and into the Mississippi Sound. These pipes and other culverts dot the beach in all three coastal counties. They carry untreated stormwater out to the gulf, and they're the reason the state Department of Environmental Quality has issued beach closures or advisories, in different areas, 39 times so far this year.
One of the projects is a design challenge to look for solutions to the way these beach outfalls affect water quality along the beach. The winning design is expected to be put into practice.
DEQ restoration director Marc Wyatt says they decided to do a contest to get the widest participation possible: "We could have picked a firm to develop a plan, but we wanted to get the public involved and basically make sure every stone was uncovered to see what ideas are out there."
Nearly $12 million is earmarked for oyster restoration and management. Kelly Lucas, chief scientific officer for the Department of Marine Resources, says the funding will, among other things, pay for more water sampling and mapping.
"Having that water quality information, in addition to the habitat types, will really help narrow down where we can do restroation and have a great chance of success," she says.
The funding also includes $10 million for habitat restoration on federal lands and $7.5 million for restoration and conservation in the Turkey Creek watershed in Harrison County.