Toxic algal blooms close Miss. beaches ahead of holiday weekend

Toxic algal blooms closes Mississippi beaches ahead of holiday weekend

BILOXI, Miss. (WVUE) - Orange flags were flying at Front Beach in Mississippi Wednesday (July 3), with an advisory sign below warning people of the high bacteria levels in the water.

Biloxi resident Melanie Chance said the closures are especially disappointing as the holiday weekend approaches.

"I definitely think that this 4th of July will be different,” Chance said.

Front Beach is among a growing list of beaches in Mississippi where the water is off limits due to a harmful blue-green algal bloom. While Mississippi officials want people to heed warnings from DEQ and stay clear from the water, they admitted they can’t really enforce it.

Mississippi DEQ is monitoring and evaluating the algae growth, which they’ve said they believe is connected to the amount of freshwater in the Mississippi Sound coming from the Bonnet Carre Spillway.

The harmful algal bloom can occur in warm fresh water and cause rashes, stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. Because of this, officials in Biloxi are constantly testing their waters, according to Cecilia Dobbs Walton, a spokeswoman for the city.

“We have the waters tested often for chemicals or bacteria or anything that may be harmful in the water,” Dobbs Walton said.

As people start heading into the city to celebrate the holiday weekend, tourism officials like Erin Rosetti said they are worried how businesses may be effected/

“The ones that have been impacted unfortunately are the water-based activities, so those vendors that are in the area of no contact,” Rosetti said.

She said they are in the thick of things and it’s hard to quantify how these businesses will be affected. But, she said while the water is off limits, the beaches aren’t.

“We encourage you not to be in the water, but you can still enjoy the sand and the beaches, and we do have some beaches that are still open,” Rosetti said.

But longtime resident like chance said they aren’t taking any chances. Instead, Chance said they’ll just create new Independence Day traditions.

“Like, every Fourth of July we always go out to Horn Island, and all this kind of stuff, and get in the water,” Chance said. “But as these new warnings are coming, it’s just like, ‘are you going to get in the water?’ Most likely people will say no.”

Others, like Biloxi resident Trinity Penton, are fearing that the algae could be a long-term problem.

“I’m worried, like it’s never going to go away, and that’s really scary,” Penton said.

See a complete list of the closed beaches here: Toxic algae closes beaches across Miss. coast.

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