The Barataria-Terrebonne Estuary Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program, is partnering with the Bayou Lafourche Freshwater District and the South Central Planning and Development Commission to survey home sewage systems and to provide funds to homeowners to fix their broken home sewage systems in an effort to improve water quality in the Bayou Folse Watershed.
THIBODAUX, La. — The Barataria-Terrebonne Estuary Foundation (BTEF) and the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program have partnered with the Bayou Lafourche Freshwater District (BLFWD) and the South Central Planning and Development Commission (SCPDC) to survey home sewage systems and to provide funds to homeowners to fix their broken home sewage systems. The program is being administered through SCPDC and will fund homeowners for half of the cost of repair up to $1,000. Funding for this project comes from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Gulf of Mexico Program.
“The Bayou Folse Watershed Home Sewage Assistance Program was initiated to help clean up the waterways in the Bayou Folse Area. This is so important to protect our drinking water and our general way of life. Cleaning up the waterways make fishing, swimming, and boating safer for all who like to enjoy those activities. We hope to show measurable success in repairing or replacing home sewage treatment systems in the area so that the program can one day be expanded to a larger area.” said Mike Wich, Chief Building Official for the South Central Regional Construction Code Council, Program Manager for the Bayou Folse Watershed Home Sewage Assistance Program.
The Bayou Folse watershed is the land between La Hwy 1 and La Hwy 316 and from Thibodaux to the Company Canal. The Bayou Folse drainage (other names include 40 Arpent Canal and Bayou Cutoff) begins in the City of Thibodaux on Nicholls State University campus and flows southeast through dog legs, hydrologically-modified waterways, and Lake Fields — a popular recreational area. Land uses in the Bayou Folse watershed include sugar cane, cattle farming, urban residential, and rural residential. Much of the watershed contains levees and is under forced drainage.
Malfunctioning home sewage systems can have a dramatic negative impact on the environment in Louisiana and across the Gulf of Mexico’s waterways. These broken sewage systems allow large quantities of fecal coliform bacteria to enter water bodies, which can cause human sickness and threatens fish and aquatic life. Poorly treated wastewater is the greatest threat to shellfish and oyster harvesting.
Andrew Barron, BTNEP Senior Water Quality Resources Coordinator said, “The goal of this project is to improve the water quality in the Bayou Folse watershed by reducing bacteria numbers in the area that drains to the watershed. Untreated sewage is the biggest problem we have for water quality. Many people don’t realize that home sewage systems are just like a car or a truck, they need to be fixed or maintained regularly. If you don’t pay attention to it, it will force you to pay attention in the form of horrible smells and possible sickness for your family. The best way that you can protect the estuary, the environment, and your family is to properly maintain your home sewage system or to fix it if it is broken, and this program is the best deal you will get to fix your home sewage system!”
The BTEF Home Sewage Assistance Program will only address individual home sewage systems located in the Bayou Folse Watershed. The project will focus on areas around Thibodaux, Raceland, Matthews, and Lockport (on the Hwy 1 side of the bayou).
“Water Quality in the entire Bayou Folse Watershed is an important issue to the Bayou Lafourche Fresh Water District. Having this watershed interconnected with Bayou Lafourche, which is the drinking water supply for over 300,000 people, it is critical to assure that all home sewage systems in the watershed are working properly. This is an unbelievable opportunity for residents in this watershed to receive financial assistance in order to make repairs to their systems, and BLFWD supports BTEF as they work toward the successful implementation of this program.” said Ben Malbrough, P.E., Executive Director of the Bayou Lafourche Fresh Water District.
If your home is in the watershed and identified as having a broken sewage system, the program will pay you half of the cost to fix it, up to $1,000. This includes repairing or replacing the broken home sewage system. A minimum of 244 homes will receive funding. Service is on a first come, first served basis while funds last. Homeowners will also be provided with educational information on how to properly maintain their home sewage system.
For more information about the Bayou Folse Watershed Home Sewage Assistance Program or to see if you qualify, contact Mike with SCPDC at 985-655-1070.