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Group: Fish kill spreads to Lake Pontchartrain

Information provided by Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation

METAIRIE, LA - Scientists with the Lake Pontchartrain Bain Foundation have confirmed that there is strong evidence that the polluted discharge from the Pearl River is within Lake Pontchartrain. The Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation was alerted to the observance of a fish kill and black water on the West Pearl River on Saturday, August 13th. News reports indicated that the fish kill could be the result of low oxygen levels caused by a release from the Temple-Inland paper mill in Bogalusa, LA.

On Monday, LPBF staff monitored the Pearl River and discovered that low oxygen water and dead fish extended at least a mile down river of Interstate 10 in the West Pearl River. This implied the water would soon reach Rigolets Pass. On Tuesday August 16, a ten mile long foam line was mapped stretching from Rigolets Pass to nearly Bayou Bonfouca (see maps and photographs attached). The white, frothy foam line had scattered dead catfish, and appeared to emanate from Rigolets Pass on an incoming tide. Oxygen levels in Lake Pontchartrain appeared normal. It is likely the foam and dead fish were carried by tides in normal lake water and may not indicate that significant polluted water has entered Lake Pontchartrain.

Over the past few days, LPBF has been in contact with state agencies and has begun reconnaissance boat trips to assess the magnitude and extent of impact. LPBF environmental staff accompanied Dr. Michael Poirrier of the University of New Orleans, to map the black water, perform water quality testing, and assess species that were being impacted. The group followed the plume for a distance of over nine miles in the Pearl River and identified a multitude of dead species along the river (identified below). Water quality analyses also confirmed that the black water had very low oxygen levels. The LPBF will perform more reconnaissance trips over the next few weeks to track the plume as it flows down the Pearl River.

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