It has been one year since I made this blog! It was my first attempt at blogging. I had attended the 2017 Mississippi Water Security Institute and wanted to share some of my thoughts about how Mississippi could take better care of its resources.
The blog has grown more than I thought it would and I really appreciate all the people I have connected with through this platform. Surprisingly it isn’t only my mom who reads my blog (she doesn’t even read it)!
I just finished up the 2018 Mississippi Water Security Institute, which has allowed me to return to what I believe is important. This year at the Water Security Institute we focused on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Here is what we learned that really stuck with me:
Living Lands and Waters
Chad Pregracke was our keynote speaker and he was truly amazing! Chad decided that if no one else was going to clean up the Mississippi River, he would. At the age of 23, Chad founded Living Lands & Waters, a nonprofit that began cleaning the river. Today, the organization has grown to include a full staff and fleet of equipment and has expanded to include Student Educational Workshops, The MillionTrees Project, Adopt-a-River Mile, and Invasive Species Removal, as well as The Great Mississippi River Cleanup.
During the two week program my friends started calling me Chad Jr. Apparently I also pick up a lot of trash.
As sea levels are rising more than two inches per year, islands just off the coast of Mississippi are disappearing under water. This is a big problem because barrier islands protect us from hurricanes and storms as well as maintain our brackish water at a very specific salinity. The salinity is perfect for oysters, shrimp, and other seafood that dominate our blue economy.
While this is happening, industries are moving into coastal towns. This leads to dredging out areas so that their ships can get to where they need to go. The excess material tends to be placed out into the Gulf of Mexico. To save money, they could place the excess material where it is needed on top of barrier islands to bring them back above surface. Not only does this save money, but it preserves our coast both physically and economically.
Round Island has been sort of a pilot project for this idea. We went out there and were able to see all of the migratory birds that have claimed it as their temporary home. It is still bare, but that will be finished up soon. I hope all of the coastal states continue this trend.
Beach Outfalls Challenge
Another big problem that contributes to a decrease in our blue economy are the storm water drains. They pump storm water from all over our coast into the Mississippi Sound (the water between the barrier islands and the mainland). The water is full of garbage, sediment, and nutrient runoff. This causes plenty of problems alone, but on top of this, the pipes look very similar to what I would imagine sewage pumping into the Sound would look like. This is not good for our tourism industry at all.
The Beach Outfalls Challenge is a public prize challenge sponsored by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and is funded through a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund (NFWF GEBF). We want to enhance Mississippi’s ability to restore and maintain ecological integrity by providing measurable improvements to water quality and reducing significant sources of degradation, which will of course provide improvements in the aesthetic appeal of the beaches and therefore help tourism as well.
For the challenge, teams were able to send in plans for addressing the problem and the top three teams would be able to bring their designs to life. From there, water quality could be tested, locals surveyed, as well as other measures of performance to determine how to continue.
I believe this idea is brilliant because there are so many problems being faced by the Mississippi Gulf Coast with one thing after another from Hurricane Katrina of 2005 to the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill on 2010. Can’t wait to see how it all is coming along in the months to come.
Today is also a big day because it’s the start of a big adventure. Today I’m leaving my hometown in Mississippi and tomorrow I’m landing in Germany! I’ll be there for about a year!
I’m planning on studying and exploring, but mostly exploring! I’ll definitely be updating you guys on my German adventure (you can see more about it at my school’s study abroad blog)! 🙂
The 2018 Mississippi Water Security Institute has inspired me to work on quite a few projects that will be coming to you guys in the coming months while I’m in Germany!