MDEQ Announces Prize Purse for Beach Outfalls Challenge

At least $6,000 in Prize Money to be Awarded in the Agency’s First Public Prize Competition

(JACKSON, Miss.) – The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) announced today that a prize purse of at least $6,000 may be awarded to the participants of the Beach Outfalls Challenge.

“To further incentivize innovators as they develop new solutions that can directly impact water quality in the Mississippi Sound, we have worked with a number of sponsors along the coast to offer cash prizes as part of our Beach Outfalls Challenge,” said Marc Wyatt, director of the Office of Oil Spill Restoration at MDEQ. “We’re grateful to these sponsors, including Mississippi Power Company and Ingalls Shipbuilding, for their commitment to restoration efforts along our coastline.”

MDEQ anticipates that the top scoring college and high school teams will share a prize purse of at least $6,000. Further prize categories may be identified, depending on amount of future sponsorships. The overall winning designs will be constructed as pilot-scale demonstrations and monitored to measure the designs’ success at improving water quality. The winners of both the prize purse and of the Challenge will be named following a presentation of proposed solutions to a panel of expert judges at an event scheduled for late June.

MDEQ announced the opening of registration for the Beach Outfalls Challenge on January 9. In an effort to allow more teams to compete for the prizes, registration will remain open an additional two weeks until March 31, 2017, with design submissions due by April 14.

Approximately 200 beach outfalls can be found every few hundred yards along Mississippi’s beaches and provide an important stormwater function to the communities along the coast. However, they are a detriment to water quality in the Mississippi Sound because they currently act only as conduits, with very little treatment of the water or ecosystem service delivery functions. As a result, quantities of nutrients (i.e., nitrogen and phosphorus) and pollutants are found in significantly higher concentrations in the water near the end of the beach outfalls.

The goal of the Beach Outfalls Challenge is to enhance Mississippi’s ability to restore and maintain ecological integrity of priority bays and estuaries by providing measurable improvements to water quality and reducing significant sources of degradation. The Challenge will serve as a catalyst for innovative thinking and revolutionary improvements that can dramatically improve the quality of the water emptying into the Gulf of Mexico.

To follow the progress of registered teams or for more information, please visit

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