February 5, 2020 — THIBODAUX, La. —  The Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program (BTNEP) announces it’s 9th Annual Bayou Lafourche Cleanup to be held Saturday, March 21, and invites residents and visitors across the nation to join the cleanup. This event brings many individuals together that represent schools, churches, businesses, agencies, organizations, first responders, and anyone else to protect the bayou. These volunteers all have a 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 106-mile waterway provides the area’s drinking water supply for over 300,000 citizens.

“It’s wonderful to see the volunteers come out to clean the Bayou. The awareness it brings to Bayou Lafourche, our drinking water supply, is priceless.  We are hoping to tackle the bridges this year, so get a group together and pick a bridge over the bayou that you can clean. If you have a boat, this is a great opportunity to volunteer,” Alma Robichaux, Education/Outreach Coordinator for BTNEP. “It is everyone’s responsibility to dispose of trash properly and this event emphasizes that.”

The event started in 2012 and has since removed 170 tons of trash from the bayou, approximately 20 tons each year. In the past, 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 common, with more than 300 waste tires collected during last year’s cleanup.

The event’s goal is litter prevention and education on proper disposal of unwanted items — residents should try to recycle or donate when possible, and if not, should dispose of their trash responsibly. Many plastic, paper, and paper items can be recycled, and many household items can be donated to thrift stores or charities for reuse. Additionally, household hazardous materials are collected on certain days by Lafourche Parish such as used tires, household chemicals and used motor oil, compact flourescent lightbulbs, electronics, and appliances such as refrigerators, oven ranges, washers, dryers, and dishwashers. 

“While ridding Bayou Lafourche of trash is important, our long term goal is trash prevention.  We must continue to bring awareness to the problem in order to protect our drinking water. Bayou Lafourche supplies drinking water to four parishes and offshore oil and gas platforms,” said Dean Blanchard, Interim 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.

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

To report illegal dumping activity, contact Louisiana Department of Environmental Equality’s (LDEQ) Single Point of Contact line at 1-888-763-5424, or visit the incident report page. For more information about disposal of waste in Lafourche Parish, visit lafourchegov.org.