Introducing the Beach Outfalls ChallengeMississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ)
Monday, November 14th, 2016
Visitors to the Mississippi Gulf Coast often ask about the pipes they see extending from our beaches out into the water. Approximately 200 of these beach outfalls can be found every few hundred yards along the beaches, and they provide an important stormwater function to the communities along the Coast. However, in some instances they may only act as a conduit for certain nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and ammonia which are sometimes found in significantly higher concentrations in the water near the end of the beach outfalls.
Why have beach outfalls in the first place? Keep in mind how much our shoreline has changed over the past 100 years. The 84 miles of shoreline adjacent to the Mississippi Sound is mostly urban in nature and requires stormwater drainage. It features a 42-mile stretch of man-made beach constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers more than 90 years ago to reduce mainland erosion and to protect the seawall that was originally built to reduce damage from storm surges during hurricanes. The coastline was previously salt marsh habitat.
So while we need outfalls, we believe we can also improve the water quality within the outfalls, all while maintaining the beach and not contributing to any further erosion. If we can improve the water quality within the outfalls, we will improve the water quality in the Mississippi Sound, as well as other priority bays and estuaries. This improvement would primarily have an ecological benefit but would benefit the people who live along the Mississippi Gulf Coast as well.
This problem calls for innovative solutions, and, therefore, MDEQ believes the problem is particularly well-suited for a public prize challenge. As a result, MDEQ has instituted the Beach Outfalls Challenge to provide a way for individuals and companies to contribute new, innovative solutions to help improve water quality in the Mississippi Sound. Members of the public, companies, students, and other entities are invited to submit their ideas to improve the design of the beach outfalls. If the panel of judges names your solution as one of the Challenge’s three winners, then your solution will be designed and implemented in a pilot-scale demonstration along the coast.
Registration for the Beach Outfalls Challenge is scheduled to begin in January 2017. Learn more about the Challenge by visiting the pages of this website CLICK HERE to receive periodic updates with additional details as registration approaches.