Eddie P. Millhollon, Stephens, Matthew F., Coolman, Denise | 8/16/2005 2:24:18 AM
BOSSIER CITY – Keeping Louisiana’s waterways clean takes everyone working together, and meetings such as the LSU AgCenter’s Northwest Louisiana Watershed Summit help keep the channels of communication open.
Government and private officials met with landowners and other residents here Thursday (Aug. 11) to discuss the latest in research and other strategies designed to help keep the state’s water bodies clean and landowners free from additional government regulations.
One item discussed was the LSU AgCenter’s Water Quality Laboratory. Lab manager David Schellinger said basic testing is done at the laboratory, located in the LSU AgCenter’s W.A. Callegari Environmental Center in Baton Rouge.
The laboratory, just opened July 1, is equipped to test water samples taken from agricultural runoff, animal waste treatment facilities and waterways such as rivers, streams creeks and ponds.
"We can do single analyses for nitrates, total nitrogen and phosphorus, acidity, alkalinity, bacterial contaminants and others" Schellinger said, "And we also have several packages of analyses for speciation of phosphorus and solids and for analyzing certain potential agricultural sources of non-point source pollution."
Price of the testing varies, but Schellinger pointed out that it is reasonable.
"We charge just what it costs us to run the analyses," Schellinger said, adding that it is recommended people contact the lab before collecting samples.
"We want to be sure all of the proper equipment, such as bottles, ice packs and coolers, laboratory acquisition forms, sampling methods and such are used, and that specific information, such as date, time and weather conditions are noted and correctly recorded," he said. "This will ensure the samples received at the lab are adequate and will provide the best quality results."
Schellinger also said it is important that samples are correctly collected and shipped to prevent sample deterioration or contamination.
For information on how to collect water samples and send them to the Water Quality Lab, go to www.lsuagcenter.com/en/our_offices/departments/
W.A._Callegari_Environmental_Center/organic_water_labs/water_quality_lab/ or call (225) 765-5155.
In another aspect at the water summit, officials stressed that additional challenges are being posed by more and more people moving to rural areas. And they said planning is an essential part of agricultural ventures.
Among those plans should be the use of best management practices, known in the agricultural industries as BMPs, for short, according to Jan Boydston of the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.
"We can achieve water quality standards if all landowners use BMPs," Boydston said, adding, "Landowners can solve water quality problems without regulation.
"Water quality problems associated with agriculture can be fixed, but it is important to remember that once an area becomes urbanized, it’s a lot harder to fix these problems. Have a plan in place to use BMPs before starting any agriculture project and you’ll have fewer problems to worry about."
Another speaker, Dr. Bruce Darling of LBG-Guyton Associates in Lafayette, provided details on the Louisiana Water Management Plan he and others drew up to help Louisiana residents in their quests to clean up the state’s waterways.
"The state was divided into three regions for this plan," Darling said. "An evaluation of Louisiana’s water resources, water quality, historical use of ground water and surface water, as well as the current and projected water demand, was done, and the result is one we believe will be beneficial for Louisiana residents."
The plan is primarily a ground water management plan with emphasis placed on understanding the state’s aquifer systems and the interaction of aquifers with overlying drainage basins.
In addition to those presentations, participants also took a tour of the LSU AgCenter’s Constructed Wetland Project – a research effort at its Red River Research Station that is being used to see if natural biological and chemical processes can be used to help reduce water pollution.
"The specific goal of this project is to show how using natural resources, such as a wetland, can improve the water quality of runoff coming off agricultural land," said Dr. Eddie Millhollon, an LSU AgCenter researcher at the Red River Research Station.
Nonpoint-source pollutants – water pollution that comes from undetermined sources – have been cited as a suspected cause of much of the impairment of waterways in the Red River Basin, Millhollon said. The effectiveness of the Constructed Wetland Project is being determined by sampling water at various points along the path of the system, from the point where runoff enters the wetland to the point where it leaves.
Matthew Stephens, an LSU AgCenter area agent, also spoke about agriculture’s "Good Neighbor Policy." With more and more people moving from urban to rural areas, Stephens said more water quality issues will have to be dealt with.
"It’s going to take work," Stephens said. "But if we all work together – be good neighbors and respect one another’s rights and property – it will work out."
Eddie Millhollon at (318) 741-7430 or firstname.lastname@example.org
David Schellinger at (225) 765-5155 or email@example.com
Matthew Stephens at (318) 644-5865 or firstname.lastname@example.org
A. Denise Coolman at (318) 547-0921 or email@example.com