Volunteers from across the nation gather to clean up all 106 miles of Bayou Lafourche — the area’s drinking water supply source for over 300,000 citizens.

THIBODAUX, La. — The Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program (BTNEP) announces it’s 8th Annual Bayou Lafourche Cleanup to be held from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. on March 23, 2019, and invites residents and visitors all across the nation to join in the cleanup. The event draws hundreds of individuals representing schools, churches, business, agencies, organizations, first responders, and anyone who wants to protect the bayou. These volunteers all have the common mission of beautifying, decontaminating, and protecting Bayou Lafourche.

Bayou Lafourche is a distributary of the Mississippi River, beginning in Donaldsonville, running through parts of Ascension, Assumption, and Lafourche parishes, and empties into the Gulf of Mexico at Port Fourchon. This waterway provides the area’s drinking water supply for over 300,00 citizens.

“As a source of life to the people of the area, the bayou plays a big part in regional growth with uses in farming, industry, transportation, recreation and drinking water.” said Alma Robichaux, Bayou Lafourche Cleanup Project Director, Education/Outreach Coordinator of BTNEP.  “But litter is an ongoing culprit that continues to create health hazards, waterway obstructions, and environmental dilemmas, not to mention blight to the area’s natural aesthetics.”

Since its start in 2012, volunteers have removed more than 200 tons of trash from the bayou. In past years, glass beer bottles, food wrappers, a plastic inflatable pool, furniture, styrofoam, pipes and metal parts, television sets, plastic grocery bags, toys, plastic buckets, coolers, household goods and various chemicals have all been found in the bayou. Discarded automotive tires are always a common find, with more than 300 waste tires collected during last year’s cleanup.

The event’s goal is not only litter abatement, but to encourage the concepts of recycling — to reuse and reduce items that would otherwise be illegally dumped, discarded or sent to a landfill.  Most of the items that are discarded, such as plastics, paper products and aluminum, can all be recycled. Used clothing, toys, and household items can be donated to thrift stores and charities for reuse.

Additional recycling options are available during household hazardous materials collection days for items such as used tires, household chemicals and used motor oil, compact fluorescent lightbulbs, electronics, and appliances such as refrigerators, oven ranges, washers, dryers, and dishwashers.

“Each year volunteers have graciously given us their time and energy to help remove nearshore debris from Bayou Lafourche.  We are extremely grateful for their efforts. We continue to know, however, that the greater mission is to help local residents who litter to understand the adverse effects this has on our estuary.  We appreciate those who are also educating about the value of Bayou Lafourche and all the local waterways.” said Susan Testroet-Bergeron, Director of BTNEP.

Cleanup volunteers will be provided with a t-shirt, gloves, and trash bags, and will choose the section of the bayou they’d like to focus on. Each section is led by a site captain to organize clean up efforts. Volunteers will address the bayou’s shoreline, and board manned boats in search of larger and more difficult debris.

“It’s our goal to educate the community that the bayou is not a dumping place. There are garbage pickup services that will take unwanted appliances, furniture, lawn mowers, and more. Please think before you litter, because we all need clean water.” said Robichaux.

To sign up for the cleanup, or for more information visit www.btnep.org, or contact Alma Robichaux at alma@btnep.org or (985) 447-0868.

To report illegal dumping activity, contact LDEQ’s Single Point of Contact line at 1-888-763-5424, or visit the incident report page at http://deq.louisiana.gov/page/file-a-complaint-report-an-incident.