Aside from operating Vermilionville Living History Museum and Folklife Park to preserve and represent Acadian, Creole and Native American cultures, Bayou Vermilion District (BVD) works to beautify, conserve and manage sites along the Vermilion River. In addition, our responsibilities are vast. And, our commitment is continuous concerning the care of the river for citizens of Lafayette Parish.
Let us explore how The Department of Water Quality works, tirelessly, to improve the bayou and its tributaries.
The focus of The Department of Water Quality is to address sources of contamination that has caused the river to be listed as impaired by the Departments of Health, Agriculture, and Environmental Quality. Those sources of impairing include fecal coliform bacteria, turbidity and low dissolved oxygen levels. Since 1991, the department has been taking water samples of the Bayou Vermilion and these sampling efforts have led to the creation of environmental remediation programs. BVD was awarded a grant - along with the Lafayette and St. Martin Soil and Water Conservation District and the Department of Agriculture - to acquire a no-till drill. The no-till drill encourages farmers and landowners living along the river to plant native plant buffer zones. The same organizations worked with cattle farmers to provide fencing, bridges, and water wells to provide safe grounds for the cattle and to keep them out of the river.
With the help of the United States Geological Survey, BVD has placed four water quality monitoring gages within the parish. These gages reveal river discharge, gage height, stream elevation and mean water velocity. Soon, we will expand these efforts to begin collecting other water quality parameters. In real time, these gages indicate if the river is approaching flood stage and can estimate how long it will take for the river to return to normal levels (via NOAA). In addition, the gages provide information to the USGS.gov website.
The Department of Water Quality also stocked the Vermilion with 12,500 native catfish and 5,000 native bass last year and we plan to stock more in the future. Oh…and yes! The fish are edible. In January 2017, BVD was awarded a contract with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) to inspect home sewage systems within the parish. The purpose is to educate homeowners/occupants on how to maintain their systems, so, eventually, we will notice a drop of fecal coliform levels in our tributaries and Vermilion River. The ultimate goal is to one day be able to have primary contact (swim) in the river again!
What do you think about water quality management concerning the Vermilion in Lafayette Parish?