The Beach Outfalls Challenge is a public prize competition sponsored by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ). MORE

Where does water quality improvement start?

Friday, March 10th, 2017

A watershed, or drainage basin, is an area of land that drains rivers, streams, and rainfall all into a singular outlet. A basin can be small or large depending on the topography and the outlet point. Find more information about Mississippi’s river basins by clicking here. When addressing water quality issues, one should consider the entire watershed and not just the areas that are directly adjacent to an outflow point. While the box culverts along the Mississippi Gulf Coast directly drain the coastal streams, many of the rivers and streams in coastal Mississippi begin in areas farther north than the shoreline. For example, the Pascagoula River is approximately 80 miles long and drains an area of about 8,800 square miles into the Mississippi Sound. The Pascagoula River has two main tributaries: The Leaf River and the Chickasawhay River, which are both approximately 200 miles long and start near the latitudinal parallel of Meridian, Mississippi. Therefore, pollution such as the overuse of fertilizers or throwing plastic out the car window in northern Mississippi can have an impact on the water quality in the Mississippi Sound.

The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) recognizes that ecosystem restoration, like improving the water quality of the Mississippi Sound, has to also include restoration actions that are upstream. The State of Mississippi is currently working on several projects in the upper watersheds of the Pascagoula and Coastal Streams Basins (see Figure 1). To learn more about Mississippi’s restoration projects, visit our Story Map.

Improving water quality is a top priority for the State of Mississippi. The Beach Outfalls Challenge is one way that you can be directly involved with solving this critical issue. MDEQ is looking for practical, implementable, eco-restoration solutions that will improve water resources. Do you have a great idea? Registration for the Beach Outfalls Challenge is still open and will be through the end of March! Learn more about the Beach Outfalls Challenge by visiting the ABOUT Page of our website. If you have any questions about the Challenge, email

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