Editorials

Our advice for beach: Clean up the water

The Department of Environmental Quality advises against swimming Friday at the beach across from Edgewater Mall.
The Department of Environmental Quality advises against swimming Friday at the beach across from Edgewater Mall. jphampton@sunherald.com

Imagine driving across Mississippi with a vanload of inquisitive children. Destination: The Mississippi Coast. Miles of beach to run down, acres of sand to play in. Oh, and water to splash around in.

After a few hours, the family arrives. But there at the top of the steps to the beach is a sign.

ADVISORY, it reads in big red letters. “Swimming in this area is not (“not” in red again) recommended at this time.”

Imagine explaining that to a bunch of antsy kids.

We like to say if we get you to the Mississippi Coast once, you’ll come back again and again (or maybe even move here). And that’s true.

But suppose your first impression of the Coast is one of those advisory signs. That can’t be the first impression we want for our visitors.

On too many days, the Sun Herald gets at least one notification from the state Department of Environmental Quality that warning signs are going up on a stretch of beach.

The latest one wasn’t all bad news. Five advisories were lifted. But two remain in effect — one in Gulfport at Mississippi 605 and U.S. 90, the gateway to the beach from Interstate 10, and one at the Gulfport Harbor beach, right next to the popular Jones Park.

This is nothing new. It’s a chronic problem. But enough is enough.

Environmental factors such as wind and heavy rain aggravate the problem. But the fact is, our aging sewers are at least partly to blame.

DEQ Director Gary Rikard told the Sun Herald’s Anita Lee recently he believes some RESTORE Act money from the BP oil disaster settlement will be used to improve the wastewater system.

The next round of RESTORE projects will be announced Nov. 15 at the Coast Convention Center in Biloxi.

We hope that’s the beginning of the end of those beach advisories.

The editorial represents the views of the Sun Herald editorial board. Opinions of columnists and cartoonists are their own.

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