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Water Quality at Mississippi Beaches Earns Average Rating

By Rhonda Miller | Published 27 Jun 2012 08:01pm | comments
Hannah Hurley, 12, of Hurley, gets going on her skimboard while her aunt, Christine James, of Smithville, finds her float the perfect way to relax.

The traditional July 4th vacation time means lots of people will be spending time on the Gulf Coast. MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports a national study of water quality found Mississippi beaches are, basically, good to go.

"How’s the water?” “It’s really warm and it feels really good and I like it, a lot. It’s not cold like it usually is.”

It’s perfect day at the beach in Biloxi for 12-year-old Hannah Hurley, who’s from the town of Hurley. She’s in and out of the water with her aunt and her cousin.

"I’ve got a skimboard. You throw it on the waves and try to ride it. It’s kind of like surfing."

There are no advisories posted about bacteria levels at this beach today.  But last year, beaches from Waveland to Pascagoula had advisories posted, or were closed, on 91 days. That’s according to a study released by the Natural Resources Defense Council on Wednesday.  

The study found Mississippi beaches had bacteria levels higher than EPA standards eight percent of the time.

Nick Gatain is with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.

"In our waters, it typically is runoff related. Also, the other issue that we have is what we call sediment re-suspension. When we have strong winds and we have the real rough water that turns the bottom up, we have silt out there and you'll see the water get kind of muddy."

DEQ tests the water at 22 beaches once a week. When bacteria levels go above EPA standards, DEQ posts advisories on the beach and on its website. Then testing is done every day. The advisory is lifted after water quality meets EPA standards two days in a row.

Natural Resources Defense Council attorney Jon Devine says Mississippi’s water quality is average among the states.

"I would say that what we see nationally, and it’s reflected in Mississippi, is not good enough. We need to improve the rate at which our beaches are meeting public health standards."

Mississippi ranked 19th in the study of 30 states. Several Louisiana beaches were rated repeat offenders for having high bacteria levels. While two Alabama beaches, Gulf Shores and Gulf State Park Pavilion, earned five stars for the best monitoring procedures and water quality.




Hannah Hurley, 12, of Hurley, gets going on her skimboard while her aunt, Christine James, of Smithville, finds her float the perfect way to relax.



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