Friday, September 01, 2006

Waste Water Issues

FOR IMMEDATE RELEASEWASTEWATER ISSUE VITAL FOR REBUILDING HANCOCK COUNTYWhy do people want to live in Hancock County, even in spite of the devastation from Hurricane Katrina? People come for the coastal living and recreational opportunities. Yet, the environment and the quality of life are the very things which are endangered by development and population growth. Like all other coastal areas, Hancock County is facing the pressure of population growth and must formulate a plan that will serve the community that will exist in 25-30 years.

The volumes of water required to treat waste are so large that increasing populations create challenges to what to do with treatment discharges. The amount of freshwater needed to treat one person’s waste is 8 million cubic feet. Or, put another way, water equal to 12 football fields each 10 feet deep. There is one wastewater treatment plant in Hancock County for the entire population south of I-10. This facility is located in Waveland and each discharges 4 million gallons of treated wastewater into Edwards Bayou - - which, in turn flows into the Bay of St. Louis.

Because the treated wastewater flows into the Bay, shellfish harvesting has been off limits in for the last 40 years. Just south of the Bay, Square Handkerchief Reef accounts for 99% of all the oysters harvested in the state of Mississippi. There is additional threat from bacteria in water discharged from water treatment systems, leaked from faulty septic systems, or found somewhere in storm-water runoff which captures bacteria and pollutes the recreational waters of the coast. Even before damage to infrastructure from Hurricane Katrina, there were 63 identified point source discharges of contaminated water flowing into Hancock County waterways. When there is rainfall of more than two inches, the reef is closed to harvesting because of bacterial contamination from runoff.

The bottom line is that as Hancock County grows, the infrastructure must be in place to support the quality of life everyone wants to have. The infrastructure must be created to remove the sources of contamination and water quality will improve. With improved water quality comes better health, improved opportunities for economic development and strengthened tourism and recreational offerings.

The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) has been charged with creating a six county regional master plan for water and wastewater to carry out the requirements of legislation passed in the 2006 session of the Mississippi legislature. With creation of this master plan, each of the utility authorities in the six counties can apply for funds from the $500 million from HUD Community Development Block Grants being managed at the state level. Three public coastwide meetings will be held to hear comments on the master plan in the near future. To keep abreast of the progress of the master plan, go to and subscribe to the newsletter.

The Public Services Committee of the Hancock County Governor’s Commission on Recovery, Rebuilding and Renewal has been working closely with the Gulf of Mexico Program and the MDEQ on the water and wastewater situation, along with the drafting of the master plan. For more information call Angela Sallis at 467-9048 or you can email
Mary M. PerkinsPublic Affairs/Development Officer
Hancock County Library System
312 Highway 90Bay St. Louis, MS 39520

Telephone: (228) 467-6836 Fax: (228) 467-5503


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