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Water quality in the Lake Pontchartrain Basin in southeast Louisiana has been impacted through human activities such as unplanned and/or poorly planned growth and urban runoff. The cumulative impact of these activities has caused most of the Basin's waterbodies to not meet their designated uses for decades. The Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation (LPBF), a private, non-profit environmental organization, began testing recreational sites within the Basin for fecal coliform bacteria and physiochemical water quality parameters in 2001 with the data disseminated to the public through various media. Based on the results of that program, the LPBF established its Sub-Basin Pollution Source Tracking Program in 2002 for sites identified as having high fecal pollution. Targeting sub-watersheds of the Basin, the project utilizes water monitoring, geographic information science (GIS), assistance to wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) operators, and public education to seek out and correct point-sources of fecal pollution.

In the two sub-watersheds targeted in 2002 and 2003, the Bogue Falaya River and Tchefuncte River (respectively), LPBF has found the rivers to generally exceed the Louisiana state fecal coliform criteria for primary contact recreation. While fecal coliform counts spiked during wet weather events, they were also moderate during dry weather events. Significant correlations were observed between fecal coliform levels and the monitored physiochemical parameters. Also, during the two-year period, the wastewater specialist targeted and assisted 182 individual WWTPs.

LPBF's goal in targeting sub-watersheds of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin for identification, investigation, and correction of fecal pollution sources is to make these waterbodies available to the public once again for recreation.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2004

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