Jackson, Miss. — The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) announced that its first public prize competition, the Beach Outfalls Challenge, is now underway. Members of the public, companies, students and other entities are invited to submit their ideas to improve the design of the beach outfalls, and if the panel of judges names their solution as one of the Challenge’s three winners, the solution will be designed and implemented in a pilot-scale demonstration along the coast.
“Water quality is consistently cited as a top concern of residents who live along the Mississippi Gulf Coast,” said Marc Wyatt, Director of the Office of Oil Spill Restoration at MDEQ. “One of the top opportunities we have to directly improve water quality in the Mississippi Sound is to improve the quality of the water that empties into it. This problem offers us the opportunity to apply innovative thinking as a community to find ways to improve the situation.”
Approximately 200 beach outfalls can be found every few hundred yards along Mississippi’s beaches and provide an important stormwater function to the communities along the coast. However, they are a detriment to water quality in the Mississippi Sound because they currently act only as conduits, with very little treatment of the water or ecosystem service delivery functions. As a result, quantities of nutrients (i.e., nitrogen and phosphorus) and pollutants are found in significantly higher concentrations in the water near the end of the beach outfalls.
The goal of the Beach Outfalls Challenge is to enhance Mississippi’s ability to restore and maintain ecological integrity of priority bays and estuaries by providing measurable improvements to water quality and reducing significant sources of degradation. The Challenge will serve as a catalyst for innovative thinking and revolutionary improvements that can dramatically improve the quality of the water emptying into the Gulf of Mexico.
Registration for the Beach Outfalls Challenge is scheduled to remain open until March 15. To review the rules or to register, go to http://beachoutfallschallenge.org.