Tougher water quality rules coming

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Tougher federal clean water rules are on the way. But state environmental officials are trying to help local governments, businesses and individuals follow the rules."The responsibility for clean water lies with each and every one of us,"said Tom Killeen with LDEQ Water Permits Division.  He was here for a training program for those trying to learn how to comply with new requirements.

Clean water has been a high priority for many years now.  When the federal government first started cracking down on polluters they concentrated on big industries as they tried to clean up waterways. But now officials say industries are largely following the rules so they are zeroing in on smaller sources and harder to control sources such as storm water. Kileen admits it can be controversial. "You can't always control what your contribution to this problem is versus somebody else's. So, at the state level, LDEQ, we're trying to maintain a common sense approach, a teamwork approach."

Kileen says things like muddy water runoff from construction sites really can damage water quality. "Suspended sediments have a big impact on aquatic life. They settle down into the bayou, they suppress the organic layer of the bayou, they kill the bugs and the phytoplankton that are in the water body and that's the base of the food chain. If you suppress and kill the microorganisms, well then the small fish won't have anything to feed off of, then of course the large fish won't."

A seminar was held to help local government and small business understand what they have to do as regulations get tougher. And Kileen says LDEQ can help. "They're not going to come out to persecute you and write you up. Now, we do have surveillance people that will do that, but if you invite us out, we're not going to do that. We're going to come out to help you."

And he says everyone can help whether it's participating in hazardous waste collection days or keeping the home sewerage system maintained. Individuals or businesses can get more information on DEQ's web site.