Gilich, Mayors Discuss Bonnet Carre Issue, more Biloxi News

From:  City of Biloxi   5/29/19   GCN

Mayor Andrew "FoFo" Gilich told a meeting of Coast mayors yesterday morning that a united front is needed to work with state and federal partners on solutions to the negative impacts from unprecedented dual openings of Louisiana's Bonnet Carre Spillway.

"We're looking for facts and solutions, and we're going to work together to find a way to minimize the impacts and be more proactive in dealing with them in the future," Gilich said at the Biloxi Visitors Center to mayors anbd other leaders from across the Coast.

For the first time in history, the Bonnet Carre Spillway has opened twice this year, dumping vast amounts of sediment-rich freshwater runoff from the flood-prone Mississippi River into Lake Ponchartrain and onto the Mississippi Sound. The first opening occurred Feb. 27 and lasted 44 days. Joe Spraggins, executive director of the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, said the second opening on May 10 is expected to last even longer.

Among the negative impacts identified by Spraggins and marine scientists at the meeting were a 35 percent reduction in average crab landings for February-April, a western oyster reef mortality rate of 50 percent, and 84 dolphin and 126 sea turtle deaths. What isn't yet known is how much of those impacts are directly attributable to the spillway intrusion of freshwater into the Mississippi Sound rather than other factors.
Joe Jewell, Marine Fisheries Director at MDMR, noted that spillway openings are happening more frequently than any time in the past, due to the amount of flooding upriver along the Mississippi. The frequency is causing even more alarm and concern for the delicate environmental balance needed to sustain historic shrimp, crab and oyster production in the Sound.

Fisheries scientists Jill Hendon and James Franks from the Gulf Coast Research Lab noted that it's been more than 45 years since there was a competent study of freshwater intrusion impacts from spillway openings.

Pass Christian Mayor Chipper McDermott strongly called for state help in returning a robust oyster production in western Harrison County. Waveland Mayor Mike Smith suggested that the federal government devise a plan to divert overflow from the Mississippi to other areas.

Gilich noted that the Coast has significant new financial resources to deal with the situation in the form of grants from the BP disaster fund or the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, known as GOMESA. He and his fellow mayors agreed on a plan to meet with state and federal officials to identify workable solutions and funding sources.

See the report from the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources
Video: See a 26-minute report from this morning

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Seniors, the Snyder is the place to be Wednesday

Adults age 50 and older can get a host of free health screenings, demonstrations and tips on leading a healthy lifestyle Wednesday during the Senior Health, Wellness & Fitness Expo.

The event is free and takes place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Donal M. Snyder Sr. Community Center, 2520 Pass Road.

"This a way for the city to continue to promote health and fitness to our growing senior population," Biloxi Parks & Recreation Director Cheryl Bell said. "We have seen the need for more senior health and fitness information and programs and have seen increased participation in our exercise classes."

Activities include health screenings for body mass index, back and eyes, information booths, healthy morning snacks, door prizes, and more. Some screening will require fasting.

The expo is sponsored by the City of Biloxi, The Links, Incorporated, PRN Home Care, and Southern Hearts Hospice.

Added Bell: "Myriad organizations will be on site to assist seniors in various ways and seniors will be able to obtain a wealth of information that can assist them in the future."

See the event flyer

News & notes: Weekly report, council meeting video

The week that was: Last week, the Police Department handled 1,915 calls for service; the Community Development Department issued 129 building permits with a construction valuation of more than $1,850,000; and the Engineering Department continued to progress on projects throughout the city. To see the reports covering last week, click here.

City Council: The Biloxi City Council held its last meeting of May 2019 this afternoon at Biloxi City Hall where council members addressed a number of issues and heard an infrastructure update by Jennifer Matranga wtih Oscar Renda Contracting. To see the complete video of the meeting, click here.


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