The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality closed two more beaches July 7. The closures, in addition to the 19 closed beaches already announced in Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties, means all of Mississippi’s Gulf Coast beaches are now closed to swimming due to blue-green “harmful algal blooms” that continue to extend into the Mississippi waters.
“The closures refer to water contact and does not prohibit use of the sand portion of a beach,” MDEQ said in its news release.
In this week’s news release, MDEQ also noted that a water contact advisory was issued June 2 for a segment of the Jourdan River in Hancock County from the I-10 bridge to the mouth of the river into St. Louis Bay.
“MDEQ recommends that people avoid water contact such as swimming, wading, and fishing. People should also avoid eating fish or anything else taken from these waters until further notice. MDEQ encourages the public to be aware of their surroundings and notify the agency and/or local emergency management officials if they see HAB in other sections of the river or anywhere else on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. An algal bloom is the rapid growth of algae on the surface of the water,” according to the June 7 news release.
MDEQ initially closed four beaches June 22 because of the algal bloom, and now a little over two weeks later all the Coast’s beaches are closed to water activity.
A report from the Sun Herald today noted:
Blue-green algae is typically found in freshwater, while red algae, also called a red tide, is typically found in saltwater.
Freshwater has been pouring into the Mississippi Sound since the Bonnet Carré Spillway opened May 10 to alleviate Mississippi River flooding.
The spillway opened only once in the 80s and once in the 90s. It has opened five times since 2008. The unprecedented two 2019 openings have so far dragged on for 76 days, the longest in history when the two openings in February and May are combined. The spillway remains open today.
Gov. Phil Bryant created a Bonnet Carré Spillway Task Force and on Tuesday it released findings from June.