Marine Debris Problems

Reported by Theresa Schmidt

It's coming up on three years since hurricane Rita, and debris in our waterways continues to be a problem.

There is a field of debris from hurricane Rita, just off the road leading to Calcasieu Point. If there's still stuff above ground, you know there's still plenty in the lakes and rivers. So, Calcasieu officials are teaming up with the state to continue debris removal from the waterways now that they have continued funding for the effort.

Leo Richardson with the governor's office of homeland security and emergency preparerdness says, "now they're returning to do a more extensive job into our fisheries waterways, recreational waterways, that impact our economy, our lifestyle, our health and safety economy and our waterways dependent coast line. There is no cost to the state for this program . It is fully federally funded. We hardly have any paperwork to be honest with you."

Besides creating recreation and commercial boating hazards, debris can cause or worsen flooding-- if it's clogging major drainage canals.

Norman Bordeau with Calcasieu OHSEP says, "we are also working with our engineering, public works department to liason with the gravity drainage districts in the parish to ensure that those areas that may have storm related debris in them are also identified....the coast guard can look at those areas also."

The main message from officials here: "If you see debris in a public waterway report it. That way they can do something about it."

Richardson says, "and this is where we need the community's help. We have to tell the coast guard where to go look. They're not going to go exploring. We can't say, 'well, Prien Lake is just full of stuff, go out there and see what you can find.. We have to tell them where in Prien Lake."

To be eligible for removal, debris must have created an economic or environmental or safety issue and have been caused by the hurricane.

To report marine debris call toll free 866-579-4-DNR or click here to go to the louisiana marine debris web site.