water security

First Anniversary!

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)!

wsi18

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.

IMG2095528994

pick pick pick up trash!

Round Island

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.

 

another pipe

Example of a storm water drainage pipe.

pipe

Not aesthetically pleasing or safe for people to walk on.

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.

 


Germany!

IMG_20180601_121036_869

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!

Peace out,

Kris

The Nature of Cities

In May, I participated in the Mississippi Water Security Institute at the University of Mississippi.  The program is funded by the Robert M. Hearin Foundation and participants were from Jackson State University, Mississippi State University, Mississippi Valley State University, University of Southern Mississippi, and University of Mississippi.  This year we studied urban water systems.  Speakers came from all over the world and we also traveled the state to see different bodies of water and careers related to water.

The keynote speaker was David Maddox of The Nature of Cities.  He believes that cities are ecosystems of people, nature, and infrastructure. When it comes to biodiversity and environmentalism within cities, we shouldn’t just talk about the nature in cities (bioswales, parks, street trees, etc.), but also the nature of the cities themselves. The Nature of Cities is an international platform to share diverse ideas about these ecosystems and how to make cities that are resilient, sustainable, livable, and just. Currently, they have almost 650 contributors representing 27 countries and 6 continents and their viewers represent over 150 countries.

The ecosystems of people, nature, and infrastructure I hope to have in the future are resilient, sustainable, and livable.  Resilience is becoming more important with the increase of natural disasters.  Sustainability is important to me and should be important to city planners.  Each of our decisions impacts the entire ecosystem of the city and the world as a whole.  People will continue living in cities that aren’t resilient and sustainable if our designs are not livable.  We can design cities with only one or two of these descriptors, but that’s not a real solution.

I encourage you to read a few essays on the Nature of Cities — not just from your area, but from across the world (Africa, Asia, Middle East, and South America to start).  It’s important to see where others are succeeding and failing so we can learn from their experiences.  But more importantly, notice how across the world, a lot of what makes a great city is the same.

If you love your city (or state or country or planet), get involved!