Beach Outfalls: BSL team finalist in MDEQ challenge
By Cassandra Favre, Staff Writer
Jun 16, 2017, 15:54
Team SALT of Bay St. Louis is a finalist in the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality's Beach Outfalls Challenge.
Team SALT will present its presentation at the Beach Outfalls Challenge Showcase on June 28 at 9 a.m. the Fleming Education Center Auditorium at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Park Campus in Long Beach, a release from MDEQ states.
The winners will be announced later that day.
According to MDEQ, there are 200 beach outfalls along Mississippi's beaches, which provide an important storm water function.
"However, these beach outfalls currently act only as conduits, transporting storm water from communities on the coast to the Mississippi Sound with very little treatment of the water or ecosystem service delivery functions, which impacts the water quality in the Mississippi Sound," the release states. "Quantities of nutrients and pollutants are found in significantly higher concentrations in the water near the end of the beach outfalls."
Allison Anderson's firm Unabridged Architecture is the leader of Team SALT, which stands for Sustainable Active Landscapes Team.
"The goal is to have zero beach advisories, which have a tremendous affect on tourists and residents," she said. "If they are suspicious of what's in our water, they are less likely to engage."
However, Anderson said she's been researching this topic since she moved to the area 22 years ago and in her role as a member of Hancock County Greenways.
"Before the oil spill, I was thinking of ways to intercept contaminants and restore a healthy runoff to the Mississippi Sound," Anderson said.
After a hard rain, Anderson said the first flush of storm water carries oil, glass and other debris from the roadways. When the water runs across lawns, it picks up fertilizers and pesticides, which can be harmful to marine life.
"When the water goes through the pipe, it is flushed out fast, which stirs up sediment," she said. "That sediment has bacteria and vibrio bonded to it. Once the bacteria is resuspended it's looking for a host. That's why you shouldn't swim immediately after a storm."
Team SALT's solution is two-fold, which is what earned the team two finalist spots, Anderson said.
The first is the beachside, a plan to restore the original condition a title creek estuary, Anderson said. When water winds through planted dune and marsh grasses in waterways, it is slowed and cooled, she said. Offshore artificial reefs are one last line of defense, Anderson added.
The second part involves an in stream solution, Anderson said, by leaving the original channel for water and creating a micro-bayou wetlands.
"A habitat for filtering water and a nursery for new fish species," she said.
Members of Team SALT include landscape architect Walter Meyer of Local Office Landscape in Brooklyn, NY, Anderson said.
"I met Walter Meyer on a beach in Rockaway, NY," she said. "He was showing a group of planted dune systems that were put in place before Hurricane Sandy and it protected bungalows. I found out he had done outfall projects in Puerto Rico, where they had seven failing outfalls and couldn't afford an engineered system. He designed a natural system to treat storm water runoff and made a park."
Another member is The Land Trust for Mississippi Coastal Plain, who play an important role in waterfront restoration.
"They help by looking at the possibility of expanding the easements to treat more runoffs and acquire properties of conservation," Anderson said.
David Williams is a storm water engineer, Anderson said, and a subject matter expert consultant for Dewberry.
"He calculated how much storm water we have and can treat," Anderson said.
Team SALT member Ken Barbor is a retired rear admiral, Anderson said, who is the director of the USM Hydrographic Science Center at Stennis.
Professor of Marine Science Paleotempestology at USM Davin Wallace is another member of the team.
Anderson said paleotempestology is the historical study of storms and climate.
Rounding out Team SALT is Bryon Griffith, a consultant at Dewberry, Anderson said. Griffith is also the former director of the Environmental Protection Agency's Gulf of Mexico program, she said.
Anderson said, to her understanding, MDEQ may receive funding to build some of these projects and determine their effectiveness.
"The goal is to get these projects implemented," she said. "The runoff problem is not limited to just Mississippi, it's in every place. If we can come up with a measurable improvement in treating this non-point source pollution in ways that are beautiful and that add benefits to residents and visitors."
For more information about the Beach Outfalls Challenge, visit www.beachoutfallschallenge.org and through Facebook at Beach Outfalls Challenge Showcase.