MDEQ announces the Beach Outfalls Challenge Finalists
Monday, June 12th, 2017
The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality is happy to announce the finalists for the Beach Outfalls Challenge!
In alphabetical order, the Beach Outfalls Challenge finalists are Allen Engineering and Science, GSRC/Compton, MMMM, SALT (in-stream and on-beach solutions), and Sustainable Outfall Solutions. Each finalist team will now prepare a presentation detailing its solution for the judges to evaluate at the Beach Outfalls Challenge Showcase, to be held at 9 a.m. on June 28, 2017, at the Fleming Education Center Auditorium at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Park campus in Long Beach. The event will be open to the public. The Showcase will conclude with the announcement of the winners of the Beach Outfalls Challenge. To learn more about the Beach Outfalls Challenge Showcase click here.
“The finalists have developed promising solutions that have the potential to improve water quality in the Mississippi Sound,” said Marc Wyatt, Director of the Office of Restoration at MDEQ. “We are pleased by the overwhelming participation by the public and incorporated their feedback into the selection of our finalist teams from the pool of 12 semi-finalists announced in April.”
MDEQ is also proud to announce the highest scoring high school and college teams. These teams will share a prize purse of $6,000. The highest scoring high school team are the EnviroNeers of Madison Central from Madison Central High School in Madison, Mississippi. The highest scoring college team is Ian Hunter Land Arch from Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia.
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 Beach Outfalls 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.
Learn more about the Beach Outfalls Challenge finalist teams:
We believe stormwater runoff can be better managed in coastal Mississippi. Improved stormwater runoff quality and reduced quantity can be achieved via hybrid grey-green management strategies, stormwater treatment train approaches, and infiltration methods prior to discharging into the Gulf. In addition, if the concrete culverts and beach outfall pipes were replaced and the aesthetic improvements were made, tourists would be more likely to vacation in Mississippi rather than traveling to Florida or Alabama, resulting in more tourists, more recreation, and more dollars for our great State.
Fun Fact: AllenES Team members enjoy coastal Mississippi for food and fun – – we camp, we canoe, we shop, we paddleboard, we sail, and we play in the sand. Team members participate in coastal clean-ups, seafood cook-offs, and stakeholder engagement meetings, and we attend special events like Cruising the Coast and Mardi Gras parades. In addition, we visit the local islands and museums. We also send our children to participate in Sea Camp and Shark Week through USM Gulf Coast Summer Programs, so we are planting the seeds for future generations to love and respect our coast, too!
As a Team, we have witnessed numerous hurricanes, erosion and renourishment of the beaches, algal bloom events and fish kills, oil spills, and the resilience of the Mississippi Coast to bounce back from all adversity. The one constant in all that has happened on the Coast and along the sand beach is the continuous effluent of trash, cigarette butts, oil sheens, and other pollutants that wash out of the outfalls and onto the beach after every rain, all visible in the high tide rack line on the beach after each change of tides. We can put a stop to most of that with a simple proven methodology that is easy to install and maintain, yet keep the expansive white sand beaches that bring the tourists to the Coast every year and support the coastal economy.
Fun Fact: “I am retiring after over 50 years of geological research and project development, not just in Mississippi, but all over the United States. I am participating in the Challenge because is it something I love to do for a place I love, and it is fun to find innovative and practical solutions to real environmental problems. It is my parting gift to the Mississippi Coast, a place that holds a special spot in my heart.” Steve Oivanki, GRSC/Compton Team Leader
Members of our team agreed that the outfall culverts are a problem that is going to get worse and we had confidence that by combining our various expertise we could design a more resilient system. Poor water quality impacts the economic and environmental well-being of the coast.
We want to show the public that ecosystems can be used to improve water quality and make a place that people will enjoy.
Fun Fact: We chose our team name “MMMM” because each of the four partner organizations have an “M” in their name, but we don’t really know how our team name should be pronounced.
Our team members have been working on issues of water quality with a focus on economic and environmental resilience for over 20 years, a pursuit which became even more urgent after Hurricane Katrina devastated the community and Deepwater Horizon affected the marine environment. The Beach Outfalls Challenge is a way to bring attention and resources to solutions that can serve as a prototype throughout the Gulf Coast, and the nation. Our project will have a measurable, positive impact on water quality. Beach Advisories inhibit recreational use of the beach, discourage seafood consumption, and deter tourism and investment in the community. Our goal is to reduce the number of beach advisories per year to zero.
Fun Fact: Allison and Walter, SALT team members, both grew up surfing in places as far from the Mississippi coast as Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and the Rockaways in New York. This time spent in the ocean led to a deep respect for the beauty and power of water.
Because the water in the Mississippi Sound is damaged and may be at an ecological tipping point, we felt compelled to propose our proven methods on how the escalating conditions in the Mississippi Sound can be changed. The Beach Outfalls Challenge is an opportunity for us to design, build, and monitor proven solutions along Mississippi’s coastline that will help clean the water and create diverse plant and animal communities to increase biodiversity, make the beaches more attractive and the Sound healthier.
Fun Fact: Our team is composed of landscape architects, biological engineers, civil engineers, biologists, and ecologists, and we get along and respect what each other can do to solve this complex problem.