Opportunity: Create Innovative Water Quality Solutions for the Mississippi Coast

Registration for the Beach Outfalls Challenge is now open. The Challenge is a public prize sponsored by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) which aims to improve water quality in the Mississippi Sound.

Individuals, students, companies, and teams can compete to create innovative solutions for addressing untreated stormwater and improving water quality associated with beach outfalls. It is expected that the designs will be implemented at a larger scale across the Mississippi Coast.

From January 9 to March 15, 2017 registrations will be accepted here.

The top twelve finalists will be announced in May, along with an opportunity to vote on these finalists during the following weeks. More information about the submission and the judging process will be available at beachoutfallschallenge.org and on the challenge’s Facebook page: @BeachOutfallsChallenge.

Beach outfalls provide an important storm water function to communities as they drain storm water to minimize flooding. Along the Mississippi coast, approximately 200 beach outfalls drain water from coastal communities into the Mississippi Sound. They act as conduits only, so they provide very little treatment of the water. Two types of beach outfalls are found along the Mississippi coast. Closed outfalls drain water from Highway 90 out into the Mississippi Sound using a closed pipe that is several hundred yards long. Open outfalls drain water from property north of Highway 90 into the Mississippi Sound.

Because the outfalls serve as a quick conduit only, they do not provide an ecosystem service delivery function so nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus and ammonia do not have time to be absorbed by organic matter before reaching the Mississippi Sound. This results in significantly higher levels of these nutrients in the water near the end of the outfalls. These high levels of nutrients are not compatible with a healthy ecosystem that supports marine life, such as oyster beds and fish.

The Beach Outfalls Challenge is funded by a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund grant of $544,600 to MDEQ to improve natural resources following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

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