New interactive map shows contaminated waters in northeast Louisiana

Source: Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB/KNOE) - The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) has released a new, interactive map that offers more details about contaminated bodies of water in Louisiana. While many of the advisories have been in place for decades, the interactive map gives us a new look at advisories statewide in an easy to reference format.

The map indicates anglers should limit consumption of fish or swimmers might need to stay out of 58 different bodies of water across the state. This does not mean, however, it’s unsafe to fish or swim in all of these bodies of water.

In northeast Louisiana, several bodies of water are highlighted. Many of the warnings are for mercury. Mercury is a toxin that can lead to all sorts of health problems, most notably, problems with brain development in children. For this reason, health officials advise everyone, especially children, women who are pregnant, and women who might become pregnant, to limit their fish intake.

Eating bowfin fish from Cheniere (Brake) Lake, for example, is advised against. Young children and women of childbearing age should not eat these fish at all, and they should not eat more than two meals per month consisting of largemouth bass. The advisory also says no one should eat more than four meals per month of any fish caught from Cheniere Lake due to the mercury content.

No one should be eating bowfin from the Ouachita River because of the mercury content. Again, children 7 and under and women of childbearing age are most affected. They should not eat more than a single meal per month of any fish caught in the Ouachita River. For everyone else, the limit is, again, no more than four meals per month of any kind of fish caught in the Ouachita River. The affected area includes 178.7 miles of waterway.

While mercury is a common problem in the area, other problems also exist. The advisory says no one should eat any fish caught at Wham Brake in Morehouse Parish due to dioxins, highly toxic environmental pollutant that's a by-product of industrial processes. 17 miles of water is affected, according to the advisory.

In Madison, Tensas, Catahoula Parishes, DDT & Toxaphene are a problem. These pesticides have polluted the Tensas River to the point that the state says longterm fish consumption may cause a risk to your health. The affected area includes 176.7 miles of waterway.

Please consult the interactive map for details on the other locations.

You can see the map here.

“The details are important,” LDEQ scientist, Al Hindrichs, said Monday. “We felt like getting the details out there in an interactive map was important.”

In other parts of the state, LDEQ warns against the consumption of fish caught in the Capitol Lakes because of chemicals that are buried in the sediment that can cause cancer. At Devil's Swamp Lake and Bayou Baton Rouge, the water contains the pollutants hexachlorobenzene, hexachlorobutadiene, arsenic, lead, and mercury.

“It ought to be an embarrassment that, in the shadow of the great State of Louisiana’s capital, the water is polluted,” Katrina hero, Gen. Russel Honore, said Monday at the Baton Rouge Press Club. “That’s a crying shame in the sportsman’s paradise.”

Hindrichs says he hopes the map reminds Louisiana residents to respect the state’s resources, in addition to keeping people safe.

“Past practices by industry have long-term impact,” Hindrichs said, referencing industry standards that allowed for chemical dumping decades ago. “It’s much harder to clean it up than it is to keep it out.”

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