BEACH OUTFALLS MAY CHANGE

The Sun Herald - - Front Page - BY MARY PEREZ meperez@sun­her­ald.com Mary Perez: 228-896-2354, @MaryPerezSH

A mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar project an­nounced this week aims to im­prove the ap­pear­ance of South Mis­sis­sippi beaches.

BILOXI

Three new waves will be rolling into to the beach in Biloxi by next sum­mer, Phil Bryant an­nounced Tues­day, in what he said could be a $20 mil­lion to $40 mil­lion project to im­prove the ap­pear­ance of the beach.

Set­ting aside the elec­tion for a short time Tues­day af­ter­noon, the gov­er­nor un­veiled the ar­chi­tec­tural de­signs for a sys­tem of beach stormwa­ter outfalls.

De­signed by Dale Part­ners Ar­chi­tects and Cov­ing­ton En­gi­neer­ing, these wave-shaped grayand-tan con­crete struc­tures will ex­tend out into the water. Bryant said they will re­place the cur­rent metal and con­crete drains that carry stormwa­ter runoff across the beach.

HOW IT WORKS

The first phase will build three con­crete struc­tures on the beach in Biloxi, said Gen. Joe Sprag­gins, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Depart­ment of Marine Re­sources. One will be near the In­ter­state 110 loop, and two oth­ers will go be­tween The Blind Tiger and the Biloxi Small Craft Har­bor.

Ul­ti­mately, 250 of the waves could re­place and con­sol­i­date the 300 ex­ist­ing old pipes, he said.

Har­ri­son County Su­per­vi­sor An­gel Mid­dle­ton, who also is a beach ven­dor on the Coast, said vis­i­tors al­ways ask about the pipes and whether they are dump­ing un­clean water into the Mis­sis­sippi Sound.

The new con­crete boxes will be much larger than the cur­rent pipes and can be cleaned out, Sprag­gins said. They don’t have fil­ters, he said, but that might be added in the next phase.

He ex­pects the project to go out for bid within 30 days, he said, and the first three to be built by next sum­mer.

DMR, the Mis­sis­sippi Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Qual­ity and the Mis­sis­sippi Devel­op­ment Au­thor­ity are work­ing to­gether on the wave, Sprag­gins said. While the project can’t take pipes away from the road, he said, they can be con­sol­i­dated with a junc­tion box into a cul­vert so that fewer pipes are stretch­ing across the beach.

The waves will be paid for with funds from the Gulf of Mex­ico En­ergy Se­cu­rity Act, or GOMESA, for oil leases in fed­eral water off the coast.

Mis­sis­sippi’s fed­eral Con­gres­sional del­e­ga­tion was able to get a much larger share of the GOMESA funds this year, Bryant said, bring­ing more than $27 mil­lion to South Mis­sis­sippi.

“Enough to do some good,” he said.

TWO PLANS

Mis­sis­sippi Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Qual­ity has worked for more than a year to find ways to im­prove the out­flows and water qual­ity on South Mis­sis­sippi beaches.

In 2017, MDEQ held a de­sign chal­lenge to find the best ideas. All three win­ning projects re­place box cul­verts with con­structed wet­land de­signs, said Chris Wells, chief of staff and act­ing di­rec­tor of the Of­fice of Restora­tion at MDEQ.

It is part of MDEQ’s water qual­ity im­prove­ment project, funded with RE­STORE Act money from BP oil spill fines, and will take much longer than build­ing the waves. Fund­ing re­cently was im­proved, and now MDEQ is iden­ti­fy­ing the sites where the pilot projects should take place, he said.

“We want to be good ste­wards of the money,” Wells said, and that in­cludes find­ing the right sites. En­gi­neers will then de­sign the projects to fit the sites be­fore the work goes out to bid.

That could take more than a year, he said. Once built, the projects will be mon­i­tored to see how they work and what make changes may be nec­es­sary, he said, be­fore ad­di­tional projects are built.

WORK­ING TO­GETHER

Wells said the MDEQ pro­gram and the new wave outfalls an­nounced by Bryant are re­lated, com­ple­men­tary pro­grams that ad­dress out­flows in var­i­ous ways. At some point, he said, el­e­ments from both projects could be com­bined as the pilot pro­grams show what works.

The Coast has var­i­ous types of out­flows. “Some of them have greater im­pact on qual­ity than oth­ers, he said.

In the past cou­ple of weeks, MDEQ has be­gun water qual­ity sam­pling in prepa­ra­tion for the pilot projects, and he said the pro­gram will pro­vide new equip­ment to help iden­tify and trace sources of pol­lu­tion.

When MDEQ an­nounces beach ad­vi­sories for high bac­te­ria lev­els, “It doesn’t look for where that bac­te­ria may have come from,” he said. New tech­nol­ogy will pro­vide source test­ing at the DNA level to de­ter­mine if the bac­te­ria is from wildlife, pets or hu­mans so that faulty equip­ment or other causes can be fixed to im­prove water qual­ity, he said.

BRYANT MAKES BP AP­POINT­MENTS

Bryant also an­nounced his three ap­point­ments to the Gulf Coast Restora­tion Ad­vi­sory Board that will rec­om­mend how BP money will be spent in South Mis­sis­sippi.

In a spe­cial ses­sion in Au­gust, the Leg­is­la­ture voted that 75 per­cent of the $750 mil­lion paid by BP for eco­nomic dam­ages should be spent in the six Coast coun­ties.

He ap­pointed Moses Fea­gin, chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer of Mis­sis­sippi Power, Col. Becky Mont­gomery Jen­ner, U.S. Army re­tired, and Ash­ley Ed­wards, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Gulf Coast Busi­ness Coun­cil, to be the chair­man of the board.

Bryant said he chose the three for their unique life ex­pe­ri­ences. Fea­gin was an easy choice to look after the money, he said, Ed­wards for be­ing an im­pres­sive young leader on the Coast and Jen­ner for her op­er­a­tional skills in de­ploy­ing 30,000 troops.

Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and House Speaker Philip Gunn will each make two ap­point­ments to the ad­vi­sory board.

MDMR

An artis­tic ren­der­ing of pro­posed new stormwa­ter outfalls drains for South Mis­sis­sippi beaches un­veiled by Gov. Phil Bryant on Tues­day.

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