Waterway trash raises concerns for some

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The problem of trash built up on the side of the road and in waterways around Baton Rouge is nothing new, and while some community groups would like to see parish government do more to tackle the issue, city officials say they are doing all they can.

Zoe Harrell lived along Ward Creek near Webb Park in Baton Rouge for 40 years.

"Nobody from our neighborhood would throw anything in and mainly because we live here," said Harrell, referring to the piles of trash gathering in the creek.

Trash is now close to homes and roadways and changing the living habitat of wildlife nearby.

"It's washed in through the streets, through the storm drains and into the waterways," said Jonathan Scott.

Scott is an environmental engineer and lives along Bayou Machac. He described a similar scene on Bayou Fountain behind Highland Road Park, where a tree has blocked the bayou, causing trash to gather in the water. He and other members of the community-based Bayou Manchac Group take part in cleanups around the parish and are urging to city leaders to do more.

"As you get farther into the older developed areas of Baton Rouge, all the drainage is underground. You've got open stormed drains along all the streets, gutters that just flush the trash directly into the waterway," Scott added.

Trash buildup in the watershed in East Baton Rouge is a major concern for some, but officials from parish government say a skimmer near the campus of LSU is a perfect example of steps that are being taken to help alleviate the problem.

Bob Hearn is an environmental engineer for the parish. Hearn said he and other workers welcome public input as to the location of trash in area waterways, but added that limited resources makes cleanups and enforcement of litter statutes challenging.

"It's an ongoing problem," Hearn explained. "It's been going on a long time before me and it will be going on a long time after us. It's just the way people live and we just have to deal with what we see out there."

Scott agrees but also said if more people had access to the parish waterways, more would be done to tackle the issue.

"If there was a paddle access point, a designated paddle trail along the waterways, people would use it. When people use, they are going to see it and it's going to raise awareness. They're going to see litter and they are going to ask the city to do something about it," Scott stated.

He added officials from BREC are making plans to remove the tree in Bayou Fountain behind Highland Road Park in the near future and help the Bayou Manchac Group remove the trash in the water.

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