Vol. 18 Issue 2 February 2021
News from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality
Compliance with Regulatory Requirements During COVID-19

In April 2020, MDEQ issued guidance to the Mississippi regulated community based on executive orders from Governor Tate Reeves and information from the Mississippi State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control. MDEQ recognized that in complying with the Governor’s orders, regulated facilities may have reduced work forces due to illness, travel restrictions, and social distancing restrictions implemented in compliance with CDC and MSDH guidelines, and that temporary accommodations for such conditions may be necessary. This guidance was updated in July 2020, and remains in place until conditions allow it to be lifted (it can be found here). The agency also has a webpage for COVID-19 information as it relates to MDEQ. The Commission on Environmental Quality, the Mississippi Environmental Quality Permit Board, and agency public hearings have continued to meet with various methods during the pandemic. For more information and how to participate, please click the links in the previous sentence.
TMDL Public Notice

MDEQ's Modeling and Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Branch published a public notice on January 29, 2021, regarding several impaired water bodies in the Tombigbee River Basin. The branch has prepared TMDL reports for sediment impairment for several streams in the Tombigbee River Basin as well as a TMDL report for pH for the Buttahatchee River also in the Tombigbee River basin. The deadline to submit comments is February 28 at 5:00 p.m. More information can be found here.
EPA Approves Mississippi’s 2020 Section 303(d) List
 
EPA recently issued a final approval of the state's 2020 303(d) List. Mississippi’s 2020 Section 303(d) List of Impaired Water Bodies fulfills the state’s obligation to develop a listing of the state’s impaired waters. These are the waters that currently not meeting one or more applicable water quality standards and for which Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) are not yet completed. Water bodies on this list that are impaired are required to have TMDLs determined for each pollutant added to the water that causes impairment. A TMDL reports the maximum amount of a pollutant that can be put into a stream without violating water quality standards. The 2020 303(d) List is available here.
MDEQ Announces Public Comment Period for the Triennial Review of Mississippi’s Water Quality Standards

The Clean Water Act requires all states to develop, review, revise, and adopt water quality standards every three years known as the triennial review. Water quality standards must include three components: (1) the designated uses for the state’s waterbodies, (2) the water quality criteria (narrative or numeric) necessary to protect those uses, and (3) antidegradation provisions to protect water quality. Read more including details about public comments.
Restoration Contract Opportunities Available

MDEQ's Office of Restoration currently has an active Invitation for Bids and a Request for Proposals for restoration projects. Invitation for Bids for Invasive Species Survey and Management Services will be accepted until February 26, and proposals to assist MDEQ with Benthic Habitat Mapping Services closes February 26.
Office of Geology Publishes 7.5 Minute Surface Geologic Quadrangle of Historic Tinsley Area
James Starnes, RPG & Jonathan Leard, GIT 

The Office of Geology recently published a Surface Quadrangle map of the Tinsley area in Yazoo County with the help of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative StateMap Grant Program. During this project Geology staff got a chance to study the important gravel resources in the area and to discover their deeper geologic significance helping to unlock the glacial history of the Pre-loess Terrace gravels and their place in the evolution of the Lower Mississippi River Valley. This map provides important scientific background that will help better understand the natural environment and help in the planning and stewardship of the area’s natural resources.  

Geology staff have also been working in the Tinsley area with the conservation biology staff from the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science helping with fish sampling and natural habitat characterization to differentiate and propose two distinct separate races of the beautiful native Longear Sunfish (Lepomis megalotis). Additionally, a host of important Pleistocene age megafauna fossils such as Mastodon and ground sloth have come to our attention from local residents fossil collecting in the area.  Important insight has also been gained regarding the geoarchaeological resources of the area that has shed light into the raw stone procurement once utilized by Native American inhabitants for lithic tool manufacturing. 

The Tinsley area has had a significant impact on the state's history including Mississippi’s first oil boom. This was facilitated in part by one of our very own survey geologists, Fredric F. Mellen, while geologic mapping in Yazoo County in 1938. His observation of a seemingly out-of-place outcrop of the Moody’s Branch Formation near Tinsley led him to describe a geologic structure called a dome. He documented that the fossils' late Eocene age outcrop were structurally way too high compared to the surrounding geology. Geologists at the time were first learning that structures like this can typically associated with significant oil and gas deposits. The Tinsley oil and gas megafield became a state landmark as it was instrumental in helping the country in World War II. In addition, it has been a significant source of state tax revenue through the development of this oilfield which is still currently in operation. The official State Fossil, the fossil whale Zygorhiza kochii, was excavated from the Yazoo Clay in the Tinsley area with the help of the Mississippi Gem and Mineral Society. This amazingly complete fossil whale specimen can be found on display today, fully reconstructed, at the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science. As you can see, this area has had a significant impact on the state's history.
Want to Work for MDEQ?

MDEQ's Human Resources recently launched a webpage to collect prospective employees' contact information and qualifications. That page can be found here. In addition, MDEQ is frequently looking for qualified candidates to fill Environmental Engineer and Environmental Scientist positions. MDEQ offers many opportunities in various challenging environmental fields as well as accountant and administrative positions.
Photo of the Month

Pelicans at the Barnett Reservoir (Madison County) taken by MDEQ's Robbie Wilbur on February 15.