Hurricane Katrina Surface Water Monitoring Plan prepared
Modified Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality release
September 12, 2005
The Louisiana Office of Environmental Assessment has prepared a “Hurricane Katrina Surface Water Monitoring Plan” to determine the impact of Hurricane Katrina on water quality in affected areas.
Phase I sampling will concentrate on Lake Pontchartrain to gage the effects of receding floodwaters as well as the effects of pumped water diverted from the Greater New Orleans area into the lake. Phase II will expand to include outlets into and out of Lake Pontchartrain, i.e., Bayou LaCombe, the Tangipahoa River, the Rigolets, and the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO). After assessing sampling results, more sites may be added, and sampling frequencies may change.
The phased plan includes a provision for interim measures while efforts are underway to re-establish LDEQ’s Early Warning Organic Chemicals Detection System (EWOCDS) to help evaluate the quality of the Mississippi River as the drinking water supply for New Orleans. Currently there are six EWOCDS sites; two are fully operational – Exxon Mobil at Baton Rouge and Dow at Plaquemine.
Land uses in the impacted watersheds/area (Lake Pontchartrain, Pearl River, Terrebonne, and Barataria Basins) range from coastal marshes and cypress tupelo forests to highly urbanized and agricultural areas, with both natural and anthropogenic sources of pollutants. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, preliminary sampling results show high concentrations of fecal coliform bacteria (E. coli) which can be attributed to both point and nonpoint sources. Failing waste water treatment plants, debris, and animal waste or carcasses have contributed to the concentration of bacteria in the receding floodwaters. High organic loads are expected from marshes and forests transporting sediments, nutrients and organic material into the receiving waters. Pesticides from row crop agriculture and highly urbanized areas, as well as oil and grease from submerged parking lots, roads, highways, and driveways will be unusually high. Sediment from construction sites, nutrients from fertilized lawns, and heavy metals (zinc, cadmium, chromium, copper, and lead) are also expected to be sources of pollutants within urbanized areas.
The LDEQ has worked with its state and federal partners to establish a Unified Incident Management Team (IMT) for the coordination of environmental-related emergency response and recovery efforts. Joining DEQ in the IMT are the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) “Strike Team”; EPA Region 6 emergency response units; representatives from the Louisiana Oil Spill Coordinators Office (LOSCO), the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). As part of this effort, EPA will be sampling both surface water and sediment at locations to be determined in field.
The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) has fixed watershed-based and waterbody-specific stations that are sampled on a cyclic basis (at least once every four years). Data from both of these stations will be used to draw comparisons for the typical range of values that exist across the affected watersheds (based on statistical summaries). The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry has a fixed station network of grab samples that are taken on a quarterly basis for a selected number of pesticides. These data can also be utilized as a point of reference for the expected range of values that exist within the water bodies in the Lake Pontchartrain, Pearl River, Terrebonne, and Barataria Basins.
Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has issued an emergency declaration providing regulatory relief for emergency response and cleanup activities. It is being updated and regularly posted to DEQ’s web site (see http://www.deq.louisiana.gov/news/pdf/Declarationofemergency.pdf ).
This item is a modified version of a docuement produced by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality. For more information, please visit their web site at http://www.deq.state.la.us/