Sustainable Outfall SolutionsBiloxi, MS
Our team was coastal when coastal wasn’t cool and remains passionate about the restoration opportunities for Mississippi’s coast and barrier islands. The beach and Mississippi Sound’s near shore waters are land/water interface landscapes where the most dynamic ecological interactions occur. Historically, Mississippi’s coastal edge had salt marshes and vegetated beaches that slowed upland drainage flows to treat water and allow sediment to drop out. The beach was porous and detained rainfall that infiltrated into the sand to be treated by native bacteria. Bacteria and other microbes on marsh leaves and in the mudflats helped remove harmful bacteria and reduce nutrients before mainland water reached the Sound.
Today’s coastal ecosystem is seriously stressed as it is threatened by salt water intrusion, increased sediment and organic matter, elevated suspended solids, and increases in pathogenic bacteria. Sadly, beach outfall pipes are the most obvious visual representations of structural approaches to control or manage this dynamic environment. Impacts of this approach are beach closings, lost oyster reefs, and a decline of a once vital fishery. Mississippi’s coast may be at an ecological tipping point.
Individually and collectively, team members have partnered with coastal communities and organizations on restoration efforts that validate new and innovative alternatives to address storm water content, beach erosion, sedimentation, and the attraction of tourists. The coastal edge no longer draws visitors like it once did. The Beach Outfalls Challenge is an opportunity to showcase our approach as a sustainable outfall solution for Mississippi, and begin the change needed to bring back tourism.
Jeff Ballweber, team leader, Pickering Firm (PFI), was Director of the Mississippi Water Resources Research Institute (MWRRI) at Mississippi State University (MSU). He has 25 years’ experience with water and watershed projects. Mr. Pete Melby & Dr. Tom Cathcart co-founded/co-directed MSU’s Center for Sustainable Design. Pete provided landscape designs to sustainably restore coastal Mississippi’s marshes and beaches. Tom ensured designs considered storm water treatment and erosion control. They collaborated for 35 years applying best management practices and regenerative site developments to benefit ecosystems in the Southeast and the Gulf Coast. Pertinent projects: a) Natural Beach Landscape Designs, (1991-2017), b) Interpretive Plans & Working Drawings for Schooner Pier, Biloxi, c) Deer Island Restoration, Sediment Transport Study, d) Design & Working Drawings for “Welcome to Mississippi Gulf Coast” sign at Cowan Road, Gulfport, e) Planting plans for George Ohr Museum and Master Plan for Beauvoir; and f) Master Plan for Stennis Space Center. Pete retired from MSU and will participate via PFI. Dr. Jonathan Pote, Head, MSU’s Dept. of Ag. & Bio. Engineering and former MWRRI Director has 35 years’ experience with Green Infrastructure, environmental engineering and restoration. Andy Phelan, P.E. manages PFI’s Biloxi office and is experienced with design, management and construction oversight experience. Curt Craig, at PFI has 23 years’ experience permitting wetlands projects.
DISCLAIMER: The above information has been provided solely by the above-named Team for purposes of participation in the Beach Outfalls Challenge. The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality takes no responsibility for the information/content contained on this webpage. Further, MDEQ is not responsible and makes no representations as to the completeness, accuracy, legality, decency of material, or intellectual property compliance regarding the information/content provided above or any information/content provided on any other Team-generated webpages or websites.