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Now Gulfport’s most visible beach closed to swimmers

The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality posts advisories that warn beachgoers against swimming in the Mississippi Sound when bacteria reaches unsafe levels.
The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality posts advisories that warn beachgoers against swimming in the Mississippi Sound when bacteria reaches unsafe levels. jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com File

The Mississippi Sound along the city’s most visible stretch of beach has been added to the list of areas where water could be unsafe for swimming.

The state Department of Environmental Quality posted no-contact advisories Friday on Gulfport Harbor Beach, from 20th Avenue east to Thornton Avenue.

Advisories issued because of high bacteria levels remain in effect for nine other areas in Harrison and Jackson counties: Central and East beaches in Gulfport; Edgewater, West Central and East beaches in Biloxi; Front and Shearwater beaches in Ocean Springs; and East and West beaches in Pascagoula.

Advisories often accompany heavy rainfall, but that’s not the case here.

“I know there have been high wind levels down there, so there’s a lot of wave action,” Doug Upton, MDEQ’s chief of field services, told the Sun Herald on Thursday, when seven of the advisories were issued. “We’ve seen that in our historical data. Whenever those sediments get stirred up through wind and wave action, the bacteria in that sediment gets stirred up. That’s why we’re seeing so many closures right now.”

MDEQ Executive Director Gary Rikard said the state will announce plans Nov. 15 for the next round of $1.2 billion in restoration funding from the 2010 BP oil catastrophe. The summit will be held at the Coast Convention Center in Biloxi.

Rikard said he could not yet announce the specific plans, but they include water-quality studies and some funding for improvements.

Anita Lee: 228-896-2331, @calee99

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