GULFPORT -- Sometimes simple is the most powerful.
The message at Thursday's Restore Mississippi Sound rally on the beach was use the BP recovery money to clean up the water of the Mississippi Sound.
"Give us the wisdom to desire the purifying of the water," the Rev. Jane Stanley offered as a meditation to open the rally at Ken Combs Pier. "Look at the Gulf. Embrace it spiritually."
Millions of dollars will be pouring in to the state in the wake of the April 2010 oil disaster that killed 11 rig workers and spewed what was estimated at the time to be 205 million gallons into the Gulf over three months. It could be used to improve systems and stop untreated wastewater from overflowing into the Sound, said Susan Hayes and other members of the group. Hayes has met with the head of the state Department of Environmental Quality.
Water-contact advisories along the Mississippi Coast are common -- there have been 23 so far this year.
The group has written a letter to the governor, as the Legislature waits to find out if there will be a special session on how to spend $110 million of the BP money.
And on Thursday, the Jackson County Utility Authority, which struggles with treating influx during heavy rains, reached out to the group. A spokesman said the JCUA has a similar interest.
Howard Page with the STEPS Coalition said, "It's a reasonable subject."
Hayes also talked at the rally about innovative ways to clean bodies of water. She pointed out one oyster can clean 2 gallons an hour and that New York and Chesapeake Bay have plans that involve using oysters to clean water.
The group Restore Mississippi Sound started this year. It's small, non-partisan and growing.
Brenda Boothe, a member, said her two grandsons who spend weeks with her each summer were not able to go to the beach last year. She sees visiting families playing in the water right in front of the red warning flags.
"We want to educate people," Boothe said.
Stanley said the small gathering Thursday held many from her congregation.
"You're looking at the most optimistic people you've ever seen," she said. "If we can, we'll get it done."