Cleaning up stormwater
By Ken Grissom
ST. MARTINVILLE – Officials from communities all around Acadiana, some of which are still struggling with meeting the requirements of their wastewater permits, met at the Parish Government here earlier this month to get prepared for the next round of unfunded federal mandates: cleaning up their stormwater discharge.
Folks like Randy “Crip” Cormier from the City of Breaux Bridge heard from the likes of Jeff Jackson from DEQ, which is charged with enforcing the law, and consultant Dr. Rodney Hendrick and watershed coordinator Kristen Kordecki, who are here to smooth out the bumps in the road.
In 1987, Congress amended the Clean Water Act to include stormwater discharges. The law requires “municipal separate storm sewer systems,” or MS4s, to be permitted by the state and to start cleaning up this widespread source of water pollution.
One of the obvious first steps, especially in growing areas like Breaux Bridge and Broussard, is to enforce national standards for construction sites, said Jackson, an environmental scientist with DEQ.
Hendrick, a former LSU professor and water quality specialist, can provide municipalities with non-binding audits of their stormwater discharge, a means of literally testing the water without plunging in and risking a fine if the discharge doesn’t meet compliance.
Kordecki, as watershed coordinator with Acadiana Resource Conservation & Development based in Carencro, works with grassroots organizations like Cajuns for Bayou Teche, area schools, local governments, state and federal agencies,
Focusing on Bayou Teche – which is listed by EP A as an “impaired waterway,” unfit for fish – Kordecki helped launch the TECHE Project, a non-profit umbrella over both the trash-gathering Cajuns and the Tour du Teche, a marathon paddle race held to draw attention to the recreational potential of the Teche.
In addition to Kordecki and Hendrick, attendees at this month’s conference also heard from Bess Foret from Lafayette Consolidated Government, which has been addressing stormwater runoff into Bayou Vermilion.