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Here’s why the water turned orange in Gulfport’s harbor

Soil from Aquarium site turns Gulfport Harbor orange

Orange soil from the Mississippi Aquarium site overflowed into drainage ditches on Tuesday emptying into the Gulfport Small Craft Harbor during heavy rains from Tropical Storm Cindy. The contractor responded to the problem by digging deeper ditche
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Orange soil from the Mississippi Aquarium site overflowed into drainage ditches on Tuesday emptying into the Gulfport Small Craft Harbor during heavy rains from Tropical Storm Cindy. The contractor responded to the problem by digging deeper ditche

Tropical Storm Cindy combined with the Mississippi Aquarium construction site to turn the water orange in the city’s harbor, but contractor W.C. Fore acted quickly to remedy the problem, city officials say.

The water along the shoreline at the harbor boat ramps still had a vague orange hue Thursday morning, but the unnatural color was much more noticeable Wednesday.

W.C. Fore Trucking is elevating the aquarium site by 8-10 feet with red dirt. Fore installed silt fencing around the property off U.S. 90 in downtown Gulfport and placed hay bales around storm drains, as required for a state Department of Environmental Quality permit to do the work.

Dax Alexander of project engineering firm Brown, Mitchell & Alexander Inc. said Fore was worried about runoff, so he went beyond state requirements and dug a sediment basin around the mounting mound of red dirt to catch runoff in rainy weather.

So much rain fell so fast Tuesday evening into Wednesday morning that the sediment basin overflowed, sending a stream of dirt onto U.S. 90 and into storm drains that run under the highway to the harbor.

The aquarium’s executive director, David Kimmel, said Fore was on the job and had the highway cleared by 6:30 a.m. Wednesday. Fore also deepened the sediment basin to catch runoff as rains continued.

“It doesn’t take much sediment to turn something milky,” Alexander said. “I know we’ve gotten some sediment in the harbor but it’s working well considering the rain we’ve gotten.”

Anita Lee: 228-896-2331, @calee99

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