Letters to the Editor

Water quality remains our biggest obstacle

After reading Sharon Hayes' "Spend BP money to restore Sound" letter (June 5), I decided to do a little research concerning the condition of our Gulf waters.

As many of you have witnessed, numerous beach advisories indicating it is not safe to swim are posted often. So, why is that?

Have you noticed most of these warnings are near storm water and wastewater outfalls? Outfalls are the discharge point of a waste stream into a body of water. Outfall pipelines are found all along our Gulf Coast.

First, BP is committed to supporting economic and environmental efforts in the Gulf of Mexico, and one of the priorities identified was how to use the BP settlement money to improve our water quality.

About $1.4 billion -- yes, I said billion -- was allocated to Mississippi under the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council.

Though BP money will be spent on boat ramps, oyster reef restoration and other projects, we are defeating the purpose of our restoration if we don't clean up the water first.

With every heavy rainfall, lawn chemicals, animal excrement, oil and trash from our streets are pouring in the wastewater outfalls.

We need to build pumping stations in sewage collection systems and stop letting drainage go into the Gulf through the outfalls. Folks love the beaches in Destin and Gulf Shores because they don't have outfalls!

Of course, drainage into the Gulf is just one of our problems. People throwing trash into the Sound does nothing for the water quality either.