After hearing the proposal, more than 20 community members, organization representatives, fishermen and science experts weighed in on the proposed projects.

The Sound’s water quality was a recurring theme.

“The projects you have selected are terrific,” Sharon Hays of Gulfport said. “But what is missing are projects related to water quality. Gulf Coast residents do not swim in our waters. I do not go in the water. I don’t know a local resident who will. On the recent holiday weekend, there were about 15 people in the water and I’m sure that 95 percent of those were tourists.”

Chris Legarde of Bay St. Louis said he, too, would not go in the water on the Coast.

“I was here when Gov. Phil Bryant told us we weren’t smelling the oil spill, but we were smelling our neighbor’s lawnmower,” he said. “You know who the tourist are — they’re the ones in the water.”

Gary Rikard with the state Department of Environmental Quality said improving the state’s water quality is a top priority for his agency.

The RESTORE council plans another meeting later in the year to vote on the projects and their funding. Those wishing to comment on the projects can do so at RestoreTheGulf.gov. The deadline to submit comments is Sept. 28.

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