Regional Water Assessment Identifies Water Security as Top Issue
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
GULFPORT, MS (April 19, 2012) – The Water Subcommittee of the Plan for Opportunity has completed an assessment of the existing conditions, quality, and uses of water in the Mississippi Gulf Coast region. The document identifies key issues to be addressed by regional leaders through the planning process, paying special attention to water security.
According to the assessment, access to adequate quantities of water, of acceptable quality, to ensure human and ecosystem health is essential for the future development of the region. Over the last century there has been a significant increase in water withdrawal from underground aquifers. The result is an altered groundwater flow that has left soil depressions and water level declines. Water demand for public consumption, agriculture, commercial, and industrial uses is projected to increase, and it will be up to regional leaders to ensure the continued availability of clean and reliable water sources.
The water assessment also identifies many other water-related issues facing the Mississippi Gulf Coast, including the viability of water-based industries (such as shipbuilding), water quality impairments, recreational water access, and more. “The overall finding from this study was that we see how important water is to the everyday lives of Gulf Coast residents, for recreation, jobs, health, and even the aesthetic of living on the coast,” says Jennifer Cowley, Associate Dean of the College of Engineering at Ohio State University, a lead technical partner on the Plan for Opportunity.
Over the first months of 2012, the Water Subcommittee developed three regional goals for water: 1) provide equitable infrastructure; 2) conserve the coastal environment and 3) build a resilient water dependent economy. The Water Subcommittee is currently developing recommendations based on these goals and the water assessment, and is expected to present recommendations for approval this summer.
Plan for Opportunity is directed by a partnership of regional and local organizations, including Gulf Regional Planning Commission, Southern Mississippi Planning and Development District, Mississippi State University’s Gulf Coast Community Design Studio, the Gulf Coast Renaissance Corporation, Mississippi Center for Justice, Steps Coalition, The Ohio State University, and The Kirwan Institute. The Water Subcommittee consists of Jim Foster, Director of Gulf Coast Heritage Trails, Bill Hawkins, former Director of the Gulf Coast Research Lab, Joe Jewell, Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, Dan Longino, Harrison County Soil and Water Conservation District, Coen Perrott, Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, Troy Pierce, US EPA, Judy Steckler, Director of the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain, and Andrew Whitehurst of the Gulf Restoration Network.
For more information about the Plan for Opportunity, visit www.gulfcoastplan.org.
Contact: Ben Requet
Public Involvement Coordinator
Tel. 228/864.1167 ext. 214