Water Quality Management



The quality of water in the Bayou Vermilion is greatly affected by the runoff of water from a range of sources. The volume of water from these runoff sources can be highly polluted with storm water debris. The debris makeup is only obvious for those items which are floating on the surface. The items that sink to the bottom are not visible but just as much a problem for our waterway.

What is Stormwater Runoff?

Stormwater runoff occurs when rain water flows over the ground. Impervious surfaces like driveways, sidewalks, parking lots and streets prevent storm water from naturally soaking into the ground. Stormwater can pick up debris, chemicals, dirt, and other pollutants and flow into a storm water system leading directly to a local waterway and eventually ending up in the Bayou Vermilion.

The runoff can contain something as simple as dirt. Muddy water containing silt from construction sites creates a negative impact on the quality of water. The sediment clouds the water making it difficult or impossible for aquatic plants to grow. Sediment can also destroy aquatic habitats. Excess fertilizer and nutrients from detergents and animal waste can cause algae to bloom. When the algae die they sink to the bottom and decompose in a process that removes oxygen from the water. Fish and other aquatic organisms cannot live in water with low oxygen levels.

One of the goals of the Bayou Vermilion District is to elevate the awareness with the public to inform and educate on the tremendous negative impact any sort of debris can have on the overall water quality of the bayou. The team of professionals at the Bayou Vermilion District work hard at removing debris and attempt to identify sources of pollution entering the Bayou Vermilion. Individuals or companies polluting the bayou can face stiff civil and potentially criminal charges if found to be responsible for a pollution source.

The Lafayette Consolidated Government has a litter law whereby citizens can report incidents of littering that they witness. Witnesses need to write down details at the time of the littering incident, which are vitally important if the person littering is to receive a ticket.

The Lafayette Parish litter hotline is 337-291-7000. Please help us by reporting violators it helps to improve the water quality of our Bayou Vermilion.

Storm Water Debris

After any rain event its possible to see all sorts of trash and debris floating in the Bayou Vermilion. Where does this come from? It comes from the public. Unfortunately there are many who feel that once they toss an item on the ground, or into a storm drain it somehow makes its way to a proper disposal. Well it just doesn't work this way. Anything tossed into a ditch, coulee, or tossed directly into a storm drain goes directly into the Bayou Vermilion. The Bayou Vermilion District devotes considerable resources to attempt to prevent items from entering the main waterway by employing specially designed floating debris booms. These devices only stop the floating debris. A large amount of debris simply settles to the bottom of the Bayou Vermilion and contributes to degrading the overall water quality. On regular schedules crews of workers travel in specially equipped workboats to these points of collection to remove the debris and deliver it to a proper disposal in a landfill. The volume of debris and the diversity of debris can be quite astonishing to the uninformed. On average the crews remove between 75 and 100 55-barrels full of debris, plus large items such as TV's, auto & truck tires, construction debris, and appliances.

Cigarette Butts Kill Fish

Even a small item like a cigarette butt can have dramatic effects on the water quality. Several studies by Universities have demonstrated that one discarded cigarette butt is lethal enough to kill all living fish and organisms in a gallon of water. Anyone of us can see the problem first hand. Next time you are at a stop light at most any intersection. Simply notice the large number of discarded cigarette butts on the ground and along the curb. At major intersections its not unusual to see thousands of cigarette butts lining the street. The next rain event will simply flush these into the storm drain and directly in the Bayou Vermilion where their effect takes its toll on the aquatic animals. A study at San Diego State University reported the top ten marine debris items. Cigarettes / cigarette filters topped the list at 21% of the total.

Why are cigarette butts lethal to marine life?

Cigarette butts are loaded with polyaromtic hydrocarbons (PAH's). These PAH's are known toxic compounds, many are known causes of cancer. Many studies have shown chemicals that leach from cigarette butts can be acutely toxic to acquatic organisms. When immersed in water a cigarette butt becomes a time-released capsule of compounds like nicotine, cancer-causing benzenes, heavy metals and other dangerous compounds.

Just think of it: 1 cigarette butt makes a gallon of water lethal toward fish.