Watershed Monitoring & Enforcement

Our primary job as a Waterkeeper is to advocate and enforce compliance with environmental laws, including the use of litigation and administrative challenges against polluters in appropriate circumstances.

Waterkeepers are enforcers. They find and eliminate sources of pollution and waterway harm using the laws that empower us to protect our waterbodies and communities. This is our niche and a is powerful tool. We use the law to support our in-court and out-of-court advocacy, to ensure that our voice is heard in all public forums, and to stop the pollution and degradation of our waterways and watersheds. Enforcing the law with our words and deeds ensures that polluters and decision-makers sit up and listen when we speak - they know that if they don't pay attention we will take whatever action necessary to stop pollution and waterway harm, to enforce the law and to hold them accountable. And they know we are organizations and individuals with the knowledge, tools, connections, track record and community backing needed to succeed. We are willing to use all available tools to stop pollution and other forms of damage.

The Waterkeeper program needs to undertake specific clean water initiatives, and not just public education or "feel good" activities and must actively monitor the waterway, addressing both non-point source and point source discharges, advocating for enforcement of environmental laws.

Business as usual in the Atchafalaya Basin is not acceptable. The main enforcer of our environmental laws, when it comes to operations in wetlands, is the Corps of Engineers. The Enforcement Department of the Corps has only two enforcers with an overall staff of nine people who also do other things like wetland determinations, and they do not even have access to a boat. It is as ridiculous to think that we can save the Atchafalaya Basin without any enforcement as to think that we can keep our banks open and full of money without a police force.

The Tulane Environmental Law Clinic has made a huge difference by representing Atchafalaya Basinkeeper's best efforts to enforce our environmental laws. Without the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic, our huge successes in policy reform and enforcement could not have taken place.

In order to turn the tide of lack of compliance with mitigation and permits, the Atchafalaya Basinkeeper requires more resources than we have today. Please consider becoming a member or a sponsor .

We also must use best efforts to maintain representational standing as required by Waterkeeper Alliance. To fulfill this legal requirement and organizational obligation, it is important for us to have a membership base and to represent member interests in the waterway. A diversity of membership will help us gain access to justice for the Atchafalaya Basin.

Monitoring has taken another dimension with flights provided by SouthWings , a non-profit organization in North Carolina that provides flights to non-profit groups in order to help them preserve the environment. With the help of the flights we managed to put the "last nail in the coffin" for cypress logging here in South Louisiana by easily identifying illegal logging activities. We have identified illegal logging on state lands in the Atchafalaya Basin, illegal discharges by oil companies, and an oil waste pond that was cleaned up just after we reported it to DEQ. We also use two boats for monitoring.


Passengers, pilot, & airplane


Inside the plane. Flight & photo courtesy of SouthWings


A cypress-tupelo logging site from the air. Flight & photo courtesy of SouthWings


A factory releasing effluents into our waterway. Flight & photo courtesy of SouthWings

To identify and respond to citizen complaints, please call 225-685-9439. Citizen complaints and reports have provided invaluable information in the past.

 
Atchafalaya Basinkeeper
P.O. Box 410
Plaquemine, LA 70765 basinkeeper@gmail.com
cell: 225-685-9439
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