Gov. Phil Bryant says zero sounds like an acceptable number of beach closures on the Coast.
Bryant announced the latest round of RESTORE Act projects Tuesday at the Coast Coliseum and Convention Center, and more than half of the $114 million to be spent will be used to improve water quality in the Mississippi Sound. That is the money from the federal government’s settlement with BP over the 2010 oil disaster in the Gulf.
The $56 million Mississippi Gulf Coast Water Quality Improvement Program will replace leaky sewer and stormwater lines that contribute to the beach closings up and down the Coast.
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“I have been swimming in these waters since I was a child,” Bryant said. “We are working hard to identify and remedy problems in order to improve our water quality for our beaches and the Mississippi Sound.”
We, like Bryant, worried that signs that warn of high levels of bacteria in the water chase tourists away.
“With this initial investment, we expect to see a decrease in the number of beach advisories,” he said. “Our goal is to have no, zero, beach advisories in the future.”
Another $4 million will be spent on water quality improvements on the Pascagoula River. That’s another sound investment. The river is unique. It is the largest free-flowing river in the continental United States. It is the heart of eco-tourism in Jackson County.
“All of you who live here and around the Pascagoula River, and I’ve water-skied on it many times, understand there are water quality issues,” Bryant said. “And we’re going to begin a process of helping take care and maintain the water quality there on the Pascagoula River.”
The plan is to reduce the flow of nutrients into the upper Pascagoula and to create environment buffers along the river.
There are other commendable projects, including the $11 million purchase and preservation of 1,500 acres along Graveline Bayou in Jackson County.
“Future generations should be able to see what this Coast would have looked like if man had never arrived, if it had never been touched,” Bryant said.
We couldn’t think of a better way to spend this money.
The editorial represents the views of the Sun Herald editorial board. Opinions of columnists and cartoonists are their own.