- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 23, 2015

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) - The Department of Environmental Quality is currently investigating Saturday’s sewage spill into Bickham’s Bayou, a Cross Lake feeder, and Shreveport could face repercussions for not reporting the line break in a timely fashion.

The Times reports (https://bit.ly/1ThWrzm ) DEQ investigator Ronnie Kay said his office was not aware of the problem until contacted by the newspaper on Monday seeking comment.

Kay said DEQ is supposed to be notified of an emergency situation within 24 hours of the incident, which did not happen in this case. An emergency is defined by DEQ as sewerage overflow that enters a waterbody and causes a fish kill or has the potential to be harmful to the public.

“The investigation is not finished, but as of right now they have unauthorized discharge of sewerage to a water body,” said Kay, an environmental scientist in the DEQ’s regional office. “I consider it an emergency.”

The incident came to light over the weekend when homeowners Mike Cernigliaro and Lee Collier noticed a large number of fish floating on the bayou’s surface, while others were leaping into the air in an apparent attempt to get oxygen.

As first reported in The Times, Cernigliaro contacted the Cross Lake Patrol on Saturday, which set the wheels in motion to get the leak repaired. Cernigliaro said it was the second time for the break to occur in a couple of months. He said the city patched it up the first time and did the same with the recent leak.

“We had to put some pressure on (the city), but we feel confident it will be repaired properly this time,” Cernigliaro said.

Kay said he noted at least 14 dead shad on Tuesday. He indicated his investigation will continue until all of the repairs are completed.

“I had a city representative tell me they’re planning to plug each side of the sewer line and replace it with a new line,” Kay said.

Shreveport Water and Sewerage Director Barbara Featherston said Tuesday her crews got to the spill quickly and contained it within the bayou.

Crews were on-site Tuesday testing and monitoring the area, while installing a temporary pipe to bypass the bad section. Water testing will continue, but Featherston said she doesn’t believe any significant sewerage made it into the lake and the bayou is far from the city’s intake valve.

Fishing remains questionable along the bayou.

“Just as a precautionary measure, we are putting out cones to not fish,” Featherston said. “We had a small fish kill, not like it was a few years back. Our guys walked the bayou on Sunday and we had a handful of the larger fish and a couple hundred bait fish gasping for air. Once we got the air going, that all settled down.”

Kay said the sewage entering the waterbody is responsible for the fish kill.

“What happens is when raw sewerage gets into a waterbody it has high organic matter,” he said. “Once it breaks down, it depletes oxygen and that’s what usually causes the fish kill.”

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Information from: The Times, https://www.shreveporttimes.com


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