Q: Is there any plan to utilize the pumps at the Bayou Plaquemine Locks on a regular basis for revitalizing Bayou Plaquemine? I had high hopes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers pump project would improve the health of the bayou but am afraid, though not surprised, it has been a mega-waste of our tax dollars.

A: The pumps, which push fresh water from the Mississippi River into Bayou Plaquemine, run every night from 8 p.m. until 6 a.m., says Plaquemine Mayor Mark “Tony” Gulotta. The pumps run between June and December of every year, and pump 60,000 gallons of water per minute into the bayou, at the recommendation of the Army Corps of Engineers and environmental agencies. The pumps add oxygen to the bayou and cool the temperature of the water. This year, the pumps were cut off for a few weeks in June because the bayou water was too high.

Besides the pumps, the city also initiated other projects to revitalize the bayou. The city spent $2.5 million in 2011 to re-route effluent of the city’s water treatment plant from Bayou Plaquemine to the Mississippi River, cleaned the bayou and banks of litter and debris, and worked with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to have the bayou stocked with Florida largemouth bass in 2006, 2007 and 2010.

The state Department of Environmental Quality, in 2012, issued a report saying the bayou is considered “fully supporting all uses,” Gulotta says. This means the dissolved oxygen levels, bacteria levels, and other levels are all within environmental and health standards. Also, LDWF reported in 2012 the bayou showed a very good fish population and plenty of forage.

Q: This is a followup question to the Sept. 29 “Ask the Advocate” on bicycle sharrows. If bicycles are allowed to use a full traffic lane and are “considered the same as cars so they have the same rights”, are they required to be licensed or have safety equipment such as lights and reflectors? Are riders required to wear protective equipment?

A: We checked in with Cpl. Don Coppola Jr., a spokesman for the Baton Rouge Police Department, who tells us that in Louisiana, as in most states, bicycles are considered vehicles.

In reference to LRS 32:194: “Every person riding a bicycle upon a highway of this state shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle”.

Bicycles, however, are not required to be licensed.

When necessary (insufficient light or unfavorable conditions, etc.), bicycles should have a head lamp mounted on the front to emit a white light visible to least 500 feet to the front, and a red-colored rear-mounted lamp on the back of the bicycle to either flash or steady red light visible from a distance of 500 feet. This would include any reflectors on the front, rear and side facing from distances of 100 to 600 feet.

Protective equipment is always highly recommended, but not required for anyone except those under the age of 12, who are required to wear a helmet as either an operator or a passenger of a bicycle.

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