LSU AgCenter scientist says stormwater pollution can be controlled

Mary Ann Van Osdell, Millhollon, Eddie P.

News Release Distributed 05/19/09

BOSSIER CITY, La. – The stormwater that runs off lawns, streets and driveways contains dirt, motor oil, fertilizers and pesticides that will eventually end up in the nation’s waterways, an LSU AgCenter environmental scientist said at the Lunch and Ag Discovery program May 14 at the LSU AgCenter’s Red River Research Station.

Dr. Eddie Millhollon said impervious surfaces prevent stormwater from naturally soaking into the ground, which can trap potential pollutants. Instead, this water can pick up debris, chemicals, dirt and pollutants and carry them into a storm sewer and then into a body of water used for swimming, fishing or drinking water.

Possible pollutants include construction and agricultural sediment, hazardous waste and animal fecal matter, he said.

“The average citizen can recycle and properly dispose of household chemicals,” Millhollon said, mentioning used motor oil, antifreeze, detergent and paint among other materials.

An LSU AgCenter research project at the Red River Research Station has determined that a constructed wetland can intercept agricultural runoff water and keep pollutants from getting into the nearby Flat River, which runs into the Red River, Millhollon said.

He described the constructed wetland as a shallow swamp with vegetation that enables sediment to pull fertilizers and pesticides out of the water. A 9-foot-deep pond further reduces the level of potential pollutants in a created environment where anaerobic bacteria break down impurities.

Excess fertilizers and pesticides can lead to destructive algae blooms and poison aquatic animals in water bodies, Millhollon said.

“When algae die, they sink to the bottom and decompose in a process that removes oxygen from the water,” he said.

Millhollon added that plastic bags, six-pack rings and cigarette butts washed into water can choke, suffocate or disable aquatic life.

“No man is an island,” Millhollon said. “Pollution affects those downstream. We all live downstream.”

Mary Ann Van Osdell

5/19/2009 8:37:29 PM
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