State of the Beach/State Reports/LA/Water Quality
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Water Quality Monitoring Program
The Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health Act (BEACH Act) signed into law on October 10, 2000, amends the federal Clean Water Act (CWA), incorporating provisions intended to reduce the risk of illness to users of the Nation's recreational waters. The BEACH Act authorizes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to award program development and implementation grants to eligible States, Territories, Tribes, and local governments to support microbiological testing and monitoring of coastal recreation waters, including the Great Lakes, that are adjacent to beaches or similar points of access used by the public. BEACH Act grants also provide support for development and implementation of programs to notify the public of the potential exposure to disease-causing microorganisms in coastal recreation waters. EPA encourages coastal States and Territories to apply for BEACH Act Grants for Program Implementation (referred to as Implementation Grants) to implement effective and comprehensive coastal recreation water monitoring and public notification programs. CWA section 406(i) authorizes appropriations of up to $30 million per year to develop and implement beach programs. Unfortunately, only about one-third that amount has been authorized each year since the program's inception. For 2012, the total fund available for BEACH Act grants was $9.8 million. Funding beyond 2012 is in jeopardy, since EPA's budget request for this program in FY2013 was ZERO (money for testing in 2013 was ultimately allocated as part of a Continuing Resolution to resolve the Federal Budget impasse) and there is also no money for beach testing in the FY2014 budget. If available, funds are allocated to the states and territories based on a formula which uses three factors that are readily available and verifiable: (1) Length of beach season, (2) miles of beach and (3) number of people that use the beaches. Louisiana was eligible for a $316,000 grant in 2012.
Much of the following discussion is taken from National Resources Defense Council's (NRDC) report Testing the Waters, A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches, June 2013.
NRDC ranked Louisiana 16th in Beachwater Quality (out of 30 states). 6% of samples exceeded national standards for designated beach areas in 2012.
While most of Louisiana's coastline consists of wetlands, coastal beaches line nearly 30 miles of Gulf of Mexico and estuarine shoreline, including beaches on the barrier island Grand Isle as well as some near the Texas border and on the shore of the Lake Pontchartrain estuary. The state's coastal monitoring program is administered by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (LDHH).
Water Quality Challenges and Improvements
In August 2012, Hurricane Isaac hit eastern Louisiana and caused several beach closures. Additionally, some of the beaches monitored by the LDHH are still experiencing lingering impacts from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (August and September 2005, respectively) and Hurricanes Gustav and Ike (September 2008). For example, although use of Cameron Parish beaches is increasing as the area is rebuilt, it still remains below pre-storm levels. In 2012, Hackberry Beach remained inaccessible due to road damage.
BP Oil Spill
Louisiana's coastal beaches in the eastern half of the state were severely impacted by the BP oil disaster, which began on April 20, 2010, with the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig. Oil flowed from the damaged well for nearly three months until it was capped on July 15, 2010. Three years after the disaster, the long-term impacts from the spill are still difficult to determine.
The beachwater quality monitoring program in Louisiana through the BEACH Act does not test for oil, and thus the LDHH does not have monitoring data on oil to report. However, other entities are still engaged in oil spill cleanup activity in some regions, including Fourchon Beach, which is currently closed to the public due to ownership issues. At Fourchon Beach, Louisiana State University (LSU) researchers are investigating oil aggregates from the BP spill. Aggregates look like benign rocks but reveal a dark, oily interior when broken open. Cleanup efforts are difficult because although a beach may appear free of aggregates, hurricanes and other storms can wash away top layers of sand, uncovering oil that remains behind. Researchers at LSU are concerned that the public could be exposed to the oil aggregates once the beach is reopened.
Louisiana beaches have a wide range of salinity conditions, and most are relatively remote from urban runoff. These factors reduce the direct association between environmental conditions and enterococci densities and make the use of predictive models very difficult. Using data collected between 2004 and 2009, the LDHH Center for Environmental Health Services (CEHS) performed a study to determine how indicator organism density was influenced by environmental factors at Louisiana coastal beaches. Researchers found that environmental factors explained only a small fraction of the total variability in indicator organism density, and thus statistical models of environmental variable-indicator organism relationships were not sufficient to be used as predictive models on which to base precautionary advisories.
In 2011, Louisiana BEACH program managers conducted a similar analysis of data collected during the 2011 monitoring season. Like the 2009 study, the LDHH found the relationship between environmental variables and enterococci density changed from year to year, and that the enterococci density was not explained by differences in environmental variables. Because of the large year-to-year differences in enterococci densities and annual variance within beach segments, and annual differences in the relationship between enterococci density and the environmental variables, the study's authors concluded that developing useful predictive models that go beyond finding a general pattern of environmental conditions that are associated with higher/lower enterococci densities is not possible for Louisiana's more remote beaches. It may be possible to create a reliable predictive model for beaches near urban areas, such as the Lake Charles beaches, when additional monitoring data are available for analysis.
Monitoring is conducted from the beginning of April through the end of October. The LDHH determines sampling practices, locations, standards, and notification protocols and practices at Louisiana beaches monitored through the BEACH Act. Samples are collected 6 to 12 inches below the surface in water approximately 3 feet deep. Levels of beach use and perceptions of water quality determine monitoring priorities. Monitoring frequency does not increase after a beach is placed under advisory unless the contamination source has been identified and corrected, in which case more intensive sampling may be conducted.
Standards and Procedures
The LDHH issues beach advisories based on water quality but does not have the authority to close a beach. Local governments, however, can issue closings. Water quality standards are not met if any of the following are exceeded: an enterococcus single-sample maximum standard of 104 mpn/100 ml, an enterococcus geometric mean of 35 mpn/100 ml for samples taken over a 30-day period, or a fecal coliform geometric mean of 200 mpn/100 ml for samples taken over a 30-day period. Multiple samples are sometimes taken during a sampling event, and when they are, the results are averaged before comparison with the standard. An exceedance of any of these three standards can trigger an advisory. The public is notified about advisories through the LDHH beach advisory website, press releases, and signs posted at the beach.
Other than taking a resample to verify exceedances when results are in doubt, there is no protocol for forgoing an advisory when an exceedance is found. It is noteworthy that the majority of advisories in Louisiana result from an exceedance of the enterococcus geometric mean criterion. Louisiana's percentage of monitored station-weeks that were in compliance is different from that of states using other criteria. If Louisiana issued beach advisories based only on the enterococcus single-sample maximum criterion, as many states do, its noncompliance during 2012 would have been reduced by 64%.
Nine beach closures were issued in 2012 due to Hurricane Isaac, which affected areas on the eastern portion of the state in late August. Impacts varied by beach, with Elmer's Island and Grand Isle Beach closed for 7 days, Grand Isle State Park closed for 25 days, and Fontainebleau State Park closed for 65 days.
The Louisiana Department of Health & Hospitals Beach Monitoring Program website provides health advisory status at 26 monitoring sites from April 1 to October 31.
Water Quality Contacts
Beach Monitoring Program Coordinator
Number of Closings and Advisories: Total closing/advisory days for 51 events lasting six consecutive weeks or less increased 17% to 623 days in 2012 from 531 days in 2011. For prior years, there were 91 days in 2010, 472 days in 2009, and 221 days in 2008. In addition, there was 1 extended event (65 days total due to Hurricane Isaac) but no permanent events in 2012, a substantial reduction in both extended and permanent events from prior years. Extended events are those in effect more than six weeks but not more than 13 consecutive weeks; permanent events are in effect for more than 13 consecutive weeks. For the 51 events lasting six consecutive weeks or less, 79% (495) of closing/advisory days were due to monitoring that revealed elevated bacteria levels, and 21% (128) were due to Hurricane Isaac.
Beach Closure Data
∗ In 2006, there were only five closing/advisory days because only a few beaches were accessible due to the lingering effects of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Source: NRDC, 2013
In 2012, Louisiana reported 31 coastal beaches. Of these, 25 (81%) were assigned a monitoring frequency of once a week, 1 (3%) once a month, and 5 (16%) were not monitored. In 2012, 6% of all reported beach monitoring samples exceeded the state's daily maximum bacterial standard of 104 colonies/100 ml. The beaches with the highest percent exceedance rates of the daily maximum standard in 2012 were Fontainebleau State Park in St. Tammany Parish (18%), Rutherford Beach in Cameron Parish (17%), Cypremort Point State Park in St. Mary Parish (16%), Grand Isle State Park 2 in Jefferson Parish (13%), North Beach–Lake Charles in Calcasieu Parish (11%), and Grand Isle State Park 3 in Jefferson Parish (11%). St. Tammany Parish had the highest exceedance rate of the daily maximum standard in 2012 (18%), followed by St. Mary (16%), Orleans (14%), Lafourche (13%), Calcasieu (9%), Jefferson (6%), and Cameron (5%) parishes. NRDC considers all reported samples individually (without averaging) when calculating the percent exceedance rates in this analysis. This includes duplicate samples and samples taken outside the official beach season, if any.
An ongoing ownership dispute over Fourchon Beach restricted public access to the beach during 2012 and limited the LDHH's ability to conduct regular monitoring at stations along that beach. Stations 2 and 4 were not monitored at all during 2012.
Enterococci density was extremely low compared with prior years at Constance Beach Complex, Holly Beach, and Lake Charles beaches and was low at Hackberry-Rutherford Beach, Grand Isle Beach, and Cypremort Point State Park. The low enterococci densities may in part be explained by corresponding extremely high salinty at those beaches, but the exact cause of the improvement is unknown. Salinty at Lake Charles beaches in 2012 was comparable to salinity in prior years, suggesting that other, unknown factors affected enterococci densitites. At Fourchon Beach, Grand Isle State Park, Fontainebleau State Park, and Pontchartain Beach, enterococci density was comparable to that of prior years.
In June 2013, U.S. EPA released its latest data about beach closings and advisories for the 2012 swimming season. Note that for some states the data is incomplete, making state-to-state or year-to-year comparisons difficult.
A BEACH Grant Report for the 2011 Swimming Season has been prepared by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. Sampling results are presented in tabular and graphical form for all sampling stations, and the results are evaluated through statistics. Following is selected text from the Executive Summary of that report:
- Lingering impacts from hurricanes Katrina, Rita (August and September 2005, respectively), and Gustav and Ike (September 2008) continued to impact the Program in 2011. Use of Cameron Parish Beaches remained below pre-storm levels, although it continues to recover as the area rebuilds, and Hackberry Beach remained inaccessible due to road damage. Additionally, access constraints due to an ownership dispute on portions of Fourchon Beach restricted public access to the beach area during 2011, and as a result, stations FOUR2–FOUR4 were not monitored during 2011. Use at the remaining beaches during 2011 was near historic levels.
- Between 4 April 2011 and 31 October 2011, a total of 850 samples were collected at 25 sample stations. Monitoring was initiated and conducted on schedule from the start of the monitoring season (1 April) through the end of the season (31 October). Twenty-four (24) sample stations were monitored at ten Tier 1 or 2 continuous beach segments with a total of 62 advisories issued. Advisories were issued at 22 of the 24 sample stations during 2011 based on observed water quality exceedances. There were no advisories issued at Fourchon Beach (FOUR1) or Grand Isle State Park’s west most station (GISP4). Compliance at stations with advisories varied between 85% of monitored days in compliance at GIB1 and GIB2, to a low of 7% for GBRZ1. Across all monitored sample stations, 46% (2,037 of 4,392) of the 2011 swimming season’s available station-days were in compliance and not under an advisory. No beach closures were issued in 2011.
- Similar to most prior years, all advisories issued in 2011 resulted from exceedances of enterococci criteria, with exceedance of the geometric mean criterion involved in 97% of advisory days. Forty-seven percent (47%) of those noncompliance days resulted from enterococci geometric mean exceedances only, and 49% resulted from both enterococci geometric mean and single sample maximum exceedances. Only 3% of the 354 observed exceedances were the result of exceeding the single sample criterion alone. As discussed in previous Louisiana BEACH Grant reports, Louisiana’s percentage of monitored station-days that were in compliance is not directly comparable with other states that do not use equivalent decision criteria. If Louisiana’s decision rule were based only on the enterococci single sample maximum criterion, the state would have reduced noncompliance during 2011 by 47%.
- With each water sample collected by the BEACH Program, environmental variables were also collected. Using those data collected by the Program from 2004 through 2009, CEHS performed a thorough statistical analysis to examine how indicator organism density was influenced by environmental factors at Louisiana’s coastal beaches (the 2009 analysis presented in the Louisiana BEACH Grant Report, 2009 Swimming Season). Consistent with previously reported analyses, the results of the 2009 analysis confirmed the following:
- There were no statistically meaningful differences among sample stations within continuous beach segments;
- Enterococci densities have changed from year-to-year at all beach segments except FOUR;
- There were no known controllable sources influencing the high enterococci densities at Cameron beaches;
- Environmental variables explained only a small fraction of the total variability in indicator organism density, and thus, statistical models of environmental variable-indicator organism relationships were not sufficient to be used as predictive models upon which precautionary advisories could be based.
- Louisiana beaches are somewhat different from those of most coastal states in that they represent a wide range of salinity conditions and most are relatively remote from urban runoff, reducing the direct association between environmental conditions and enterococci densities. Given the water quality and environmental data collected by the Program through 2009, Louisiana BEACH Program managers believed development of models that could reliably predict enterococci densities were unlikely to be developed for Louisiana’s beaches. However, a reexamination of the association between the available environmental variables and enterococci density was performed following the 2011 beach monitoring season because a significant amount of new data had been collected through the 2011 season. Using data collected through 2011, the analysis yielded the same conclusions as were drawn following the 2009 analysis. That is, year-to-year differences in enterococci density at all beach segments other than FOUR was a significant source of variation, and that for most beach segments, the relationship between the environmental variables and enterococci density changed from year to year. Additionally, the observed year-to-year variation in enterococci density was not explained by corresponding differences in the environmental variables.
- Because of large year to year differences in enterococci densities and associated annual variance within all beach segments except for Fourchon Beach, and annual differences in the relationship between enterococci density and the environmental variables, developing useful statistical model that go beyond finding a general pattern of environmental conditions that are associated with higher/lower enterococci densities is not possible for Louisiana’s more remote beaches. The only possible exceptions are the urban Lake Charles area beaches; the only urban beach segments currently monitored under Louisiana’s BEACH Program. For the remote beaches or those removed from major population centers, the relationship between environmental factors and enterococci density is complex and will take more investigation to understand, requiring targeted studies that are not funded under current Beach Grants.
- Development of useful predictive models may be possible for the Lake Charles area beaches, but additional data are required to better determine the extent of annual variation in enterococci density to determine if that variation can be adequately modeled as a random effect. Based on data collected through 2011, enterococci density appears to be highly influenced by annual differences not accounted for in the observed environmental variables, but generally increases with increasing precipitation, calm or high winds, and increasing salinity at a given water temperature, or increasing water temperature with high salinities but decreases with increasing water temperature with low salinities (significant temperature-salinity interaction). Assuming that a suitable predictive model can be developed in the future, sources for local salinity and water temperature data would need to be identified and the models calibrated to data from those sources for the models to have administrative value.
- In preparation for the 2012 Beach monitoring season, the Program reassessed risk levels at monitored beaches and determined if any additional beaches warranted monitoring. Risk is a function of historic water quality conditions based on past Program sampling and beach use. Based on observed use levels and patterns during the 2011 swimming season and projections of use for the 2012 swimming season by Program partners, it is anticipated that use levels and patterns will remain at or return to approximately historic levels for all beaches except for the Cameron Parish and Fourchon Beaches. Cameron Parish beaches are expected to continue to operate below pre-hurricane Rita levels, and Hackberry beach use is expected to remain limited during 2012 due to the continuing absence of adequate road access. Public access to Fourchon Beach is expected to remain restricted until the landownership dispute that restricted access during 2011 is resolved or other arrangements to restore public access are negotiated. Regardless of whether or not public access was to be restored, Fourchon Beach is expected to remain closed to the public during 2012 due to beach enrichment construction activities scheduled to occur during the 2012 swimming season.
- The only additional beach segment identified for monitoring in 2012 was Elmer’s Island, which is located between Fourchon and Grand Isle Beaches. Elmer’s Island was considered for inclusion in the Program when the Louisiana BEACH Program was established in 2003, but was not included at that time because the beach was privately owned and accessible to the public by boat only. In mid-December 2008, the state found that the beachfront portion of the island is the property of the State of Louisiana, and restored public road access to the island for the 2009 Fourth of July weekend. Beach use during the 2011 swimming season was reported to be moderate to high, and is expected to remain so during 2012 due to improved beach access and a shift of use from Fourchon Beach to Elmer’s Island. The contiguous beach was divided into two beach segments to accommodate different levels of use between the eastern and western sections of the beach. The Elmer’s Island segment begins at the west most end of the segment at the point of highest use at the end of the access road and extends approximately 0.31 miles east, and the Elmer’s Island-East segment continues approximately 2 miles around the end of the island. Two sample stations were established; ELMR1 and ELMR2 for Elmer’s Island and Elmer’s Island-East beach segments, respectively. Similar to the Fourchon Beach-West beach segment, use at Elmer’s Island-East, away from the access point, is expected to be low.
- The anticipated use and historic water quality risk levels resulted in the 2012 monitoring season classification of seven beach segments as Tier 1 beaches (Fontainebleau, Elmer’s Island, Grand Isle and Cypremort Point State Parks, Holly, and North and South Beaches), and three beach segments as Tier 2 (Grand Isle Beach, the Constance Beach Complex, and Hackberry and Rutherford Beaches), and three Tier 3 beach segments. Of the three Tier 3 beach segments, only Fourchon Beach [Four1] will be monitored (Elmer’s Island East [ELMR2], and Fourchon Beaches FOUR2-3 and FOUR4 are not anticipated to be monitored during 2012). In 2012, it is anticipated that the Program will monitor 6.0 beach miles as Tier 1 beaches, 14.0 miles as Tier 2 beaches, and 0.3 miles of Tier 3 beach.
Here's a link to the latest beach monitoring results and a map of the monitoring locations.
An article by Nikki Buskey appearing in dailycomet.com on September 8, 2011 pointed out the problem of drains from private septic systems and perhaps even drains carrying raw sewage in Bayou Terrebonne between Thibodaux and downtown Houma.
An article by Richard Burgess appearing in 2theadvocate.com on November 21, 2007 indicated that for the six-month monitoring period ending October 31, 2007, public health workers from the State Department of Health and Hospitals conducted weekly tests at 13 coastal beaches. The eight monitored beaches in Cameron Parish, including Holly Beach, all remained under advisories against swimming for more than half the summer. Advisories were in effect at Rutherford Beach for all but two weeks from May to October. Long Beach went only four weeks without an advisory during the summer and Little Florida and Gulf Breeze beaches went only five weeks out of the six months without an advisory. By comparison, only three health advisories were issued during the summer for the seven monitored beach areas on Grand Isle, and the popular beach at Cypremort State Park had three weekly advisories for the summer. The causes of the high bacteria counts in Cameron Parish had not been identified and were still under investigation.
Storm Drains and Sewage Outfalls
No information was found on the location of sewer outfall pipes in Louisiana.
Improper and unpermitted sewer systems from both business and residential property is a big problem in Louisiana. There is a statewide effort by the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to identify the sources of pollutants in impaired waterways such as the Vermillion River and Bayou Teche. In just the first two days of DEQ inspections of businesses in rural Acadiana in December 2007, 80 unpermitted facilities were found. A similar sweep in the Bayou Lafourche area revealed 285 facilities without waste discharge permits. In these areas, businesses typically operate small septic systems that send sewage - with varying degrees of treatment - into ditches that ultimately empty into rivers that flow to the ocean.
Nonpoint source pollution is a type of water pollution that is not generated from a discrete conveyance, such as a discharge pipe, but is generated during rainfall events. Section 319 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) required that the states develop a NPS Management Plan to reduce and control nonpoint sources of pollution from the various types of land-uses that contribute to water quality problems across the United States. Some of these categories can also be defined as point source discharges and may require a storm water permit. Louisiana determined that agriculture, forestry, urban runoff, home sewage systems, sand and gravel mining, construction and hydromodification all contribute to nonpoint source pollution problems across the state. Nonpoint source pollution is the largest remaining type of water pollution that needs to be addressed within Louisiana and across the nation in order to restore the designated uses (i.e. fishing and swimming) to the impaired water bodies.
Louisiana’s NPS Program is managed by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ), and is a collaborative effort that includes many partners. Their goal is to educate people about NPS pollution and best management practices (BMPs) that can be implemented to reduce and control this type of pollution. The State of Louisiana has applied for and received Section 319 funds to implement both statewide and watershed projects to address nonpoint source pollution. Summaries of these projects have been included along with an interactive mapping tool to illustrate where the projects are located within the State. More info.
Information on CMD's Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Program can be found at: http://dnr.louisiana.gov/index.cfm?md=pagebuilder&tmp=home&pid=109
Perception of Causes
The Louisiana Coastal Enhancement Program Assessment and Strategy 2011-2016 stated that water quality issues, especially from nonpoint source pollution, represented a medium cumulative and secondary threat to water bodies in Louisiana.
The Office of State Parks has expressed concern regarding poor water quality restrictions on water-oriented recreation. Although this situation seems to be reversing, the agency is still concerned about sewage treatment, agricultural runoff, industrial waste, and littering affecting public recreational facilities (Office of State Parks 2003).
Hypoxia (low levels of dissolved oxygen in the water) continues to be a threat to the state's coastal ocean resources, with the largest Dead Zone in a decade mapped in 2002. There has also continued to be an increase in coastal development. With that increase comes an increase in possible point and non-point source pollution, contributing to nutrient levels and thus the hypoxic zone in the gulf. Hypoxia continues to push fisheries further and further offshore, increasing the distance commercial fisherman are required to travel, and exposing them to more hazards. The Hypoxia Working Group was formed in 2002 and works to help address this issue.
The Hypoxia Working Group is a subset of the Mississippi River Basin Alliance, Lower Mississippi River Basin. The Alliance is funded by the EPA and works to coordinate response and research throughout the Basin. Though focus primarily is on reducing the nitrogen loads reaching the northern Gulf of Mexico, general improvements in water quality basin-wide are being achieved as well. The Hypoxia Group has been active in providing a forum for the coordination of hypoxia efforts and state policy work. Coordination of this working group is funded by the Louisiana Governor’s Office and the in-kind donations of participants and their various agencies/companies.
The presence of marine debris on Louisiana's beaches and in coastal waters has economic, health and safety, and ecological impacts. Beach visitors find debris-strewn beaches unaesthetic. Scarce tax dollars for must be spent cleaning beaches. Trash fouls cooling intakes. Discarded pipe, equipment, abandoned or lost crab traps, nets, etc. ruin propellers or damage hulls of recreational and commercial vessels.
The people of Louisiana use the LCZ and nearshore waters for recreation year around. In the spring, fishing, boating and are prevalent activities; summer brings camping, swimming, and crabbing to the forefront. Fall and winter find groups fishing and hunting. Commercial fishing and trapping and oil and gas extraction, both onshore and offshore, occur throughout the year. With all of this activity a tremendous amount of trash is generated and often not brought back to land for proper disposal. As a result of much of the garbage being tossed over the side of the boat, marine debris becomes a problem. Marine debris is the litter and trash that accumulates along the beaches and in waterways of the LCZ.
Following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, there is a substantial amount of debris strewn throughout the LCZ. As one can imagine, there is a great deal of disaster related debris such as trees and wood, building wreckage, sand, mud, silt and gravel, vehicles, as well as plenty of hazardous material such as toxic, or unknown chemicals that have washed onto beaches and shorelines across the coast. All of these debris types can pose injury to or kill marine life and humans, causing damage to important resources.
In response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, LDNR published a paper on storm debris use in coastal restoration for informational purposes as the State continues to develop a master debris management plan. The paper addresses potential uses of the debris and provides recommendations on what measures could be pursued by LDNR and coastal parishes.
A related program is Louisiana’s Derelict Crab Trap Removal Program. The LDWF is the lead agency for this program, authorized by Act 48 passed in the 2003 Regular Legislative Session. The program designates the beginning and ending dates of the trap closure, geographical area of the trap closure, who may remove the abandoned traps, and the locations for placement of the abandoned traps for disposal. The program was developed to address the negative impacts of abandoned crab traps which include ghost fishing mortality of blue crabs and bycatch; user group conflicts with shrimp fishermen and other water-based user groups; navigational hazards to boaters; and decreased visual aesthetics. The program is volunteer based and made up of organizations, governmental entities, and individuals.
Two trap closures and cleanups took place in 2004, a winter closure in an area of Terrebonne Bay Estuary and a spring closure in Vermilion Bay. The two closures resulted in a total of 6,894 crab traps collected. Four trap closures and clean ups took place in 2005 (Sabine Lake, Terrebonne Bay, Breton Sound, Vermilion Bay), resulting in a total of 4,623 derelict crab traps retrieved.
In September 2009 the Gulf Restoration Network gave Louisiana a grade of F (worst of all the Gulf states) on how well they implement the Clean Water Act and protect their state waters and public health. The Clean Up Your Act report grades the Gulf States on issues such as establishing water quality standards, policies to prevent Dead Zone-causing pollution, public health protection, and facilitating public participation in the policy-making process.
Several Educator's Guides have been produced by COSEE SE, various Sea Grant organizations and others.
In 2004, the Louisiana Sea Grant published the Louisiana Clean Marina Guidebook. The guidebook provides an overview of actions that marine industry professionals can take to protect water and air quality. It is written for managers of full-service marinas. The recommendations contained within, however, are equally applicable to marinas with limited services as well as marine contractors. Marinas that adopt a significant proportion of the best management practices suggested within this guidebook will be eligible to be recognized as a Louisiana Clean Marina.
Programs such as the Barataria National Estuary Program and Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation typically have a beach clean-up event annually. In 2004, the Beach Sweep and Inland Waterway Clean-Up event was coordinated by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, Litter Reduction and Public Action program in conjunction with The Ocean Conservancy, other federal and state agencies and private companies with the help of citizens who wanted to be actively involved. During the 2004 Louisiana Beach Sweep and Inland Waterway Cleanup, 2,045 volunteers came to clean up shorelines and waterways. Volunteers covered 72 miles, picking up 68,394 debris items that weighed 56,619 pounds. The 2005 Louisiana Beach Sweep and Inland Waterway Cleanup were cancelled due to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. In Louisiana, cigarettes, food wrappers, and plastic beverage bottles accounted for over one quarter of all the debris items collected (LDEQ).
The five U.S. Gulf of Mexico States — Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas — formed the Gulf of Mexico Alliance in 2004 to increase regional collaboration and enhance the ecological and economic health of the Gulf of Mexico region. The Alliance is focused on the following priority areas:
- Water Quality
- Habitat Conservation and Restoration
- Ecosystem Integration and Assessment
- Nutrients & Nutrient Impacts
- Coastal Community Resilience
- Environmental Education
In addition, the Gulf of Mexico Alliance is deeply concerned about the potential environmental impacts of the BP oil spill incident on the Gulf Coast region. Each Gulf state is implementing an emergency response plan, and due to the strong Gulf States alliance, agencies are coordinating to address the uncertain future of the region in the wake of the oil spill. Ongoing activities of the Alliance will support future mitigation actions related to water quality and the habitats impacted by this incident.
General Reference Documents and Websites
EPA has compiled several NPS (Nonpoint Source) Outreach Products that are a selection of television, radio, and print products on nonpoint source pollution that have been developed by various agencies and organizations around the country. They are good examples of outreach in the mass media. Also see What You Can Do.
NOAA, in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, International City/County Management Association and Rhode Island Sea Grant, will be releasing, in August 2009, a first-of-its kind interagency guide that adapts smart growth principles to the unique needs of coastal and waterfront communities. Smart Growth for Coastal and Waterfront Communities builds on existing smart growth principles to offer 10 coastal and waterfront-specific guidelines that help manage development while balancing environmental, economic, and quality of life issues.
USGS' Great Lakes Beach Science website has a nationwide database that contains greater than 1200 citations for publications directly and indirectly pertaining to recreational water quality intended for access by the general public and scientific community. It is a fully searchable, downloadable bibliography that has been categorized into major study topics.
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