A draft plan that lays out problems and potential solutions to pollutants in a section of Bayou Manchac and tributaries will be open for public comment until Nov. 7, according to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.
The Total Maximum Daily Load report is part of a larger program under the Clean Water Act that requires states to assess water bodies and watersheds to determine the maximum amount of pollution a water body can take and still meet water quality standards.
The current TMDL is for a subsegment of Bayou Manchac and involves the pollution of chlorides, sulfates and total dissolved solids. The draft report includes measurements and estimates of how much of each pollutant comes from certain areas, like industry, agriculture or storm water runoff.
A previous report — already approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — covered issues related to dissolved oxygen in this area, said Chuck Berger, engineer manager with DEQ.
The report includes tributaries to Bayou Manchac, including Bayou Fountain; Ward Creek; Ward Creek Diversion Canal; Welsh Gully; Cotton Bayou; and Muddy Creek in the area of southern East Baton Rouge Parish and northern Ascension Parish.
Berger said the basis for the plan is water sampling that is done every month once every four years — the same procedure for water bodies across the state.
For the section of Bayou Manchac included in the report, the water quality sample information was collected in 1998, 2001 and 2005, Berger said. The water sample site, along U.S. 61, is selected so that it represents the rest of the watershed, he said.
Sources of the chlorides, sulfates and total dissolved solids range from storm water runoff to the 257 permitted outfall sources at 212 facilities as well as storm water systems of East Baton Rouge and Ascension parishes, according to the draft report.
Due to the amount of the pollution estimated to come from “nonpoint sources,” which are those that don’t come from a pipe, such as storm water runoff, this plan is more complicated and will be done in two phases, Berger said.
After the draft plan is approved by the EPA, permits in the area that come up for renewal will be required to monitor what they discharge for five years in the first phase.
The second phase will be an assessment of the watershed looking at what wildlife and fisheries use the watershed, said Sam Phillips, assistant secretary of the state Department of Environmental Quality’s office of environmental services.
The combined information from those two phases will provide information about what pollution is going into the watershed, its source and what the levels in the watershed should be to protect wildlife and fisheries, he said.
The information will let DEQ know what standards need to be set and give a better guide to what permit levels should be allowed, Phillips said.
Written comments need to be received by DEQ by 4:30 p.m., Monday, Nov. 7. Comments should be sent to William Berger Jr., Office of Environmental Services, Water Permits Division, P.O. Box 4314, Baton Rouge, LA 70821-4313.
ON THE INTERNET:
The report is available on DEQ’s website at http://www.deq.louisiana.gov/portal/DIVISIONS/WaterPermits/TotalMaximumDailyLoadTMDLProgram.aspx.