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St. Tammany Parish Government Awarded Prestigious Gulf Guardian Award

St. Tammany Parish Government has been awarded the prestigious 2022 Gulf Guardian Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its efforts to improve water quality and public health in the Bayou Liberty area.

“I am incredibly proud of the efforts of our team who work diligently to prioritize the needs of our citizens,” said Mike Cooper, St. Tammany Parish President. “It is satisfying to know that our inspections of home wastewater treatment systems in the Bayou Liberty Watershed has improved the water quality and the quality of life for our citizens. We are honored and humbled to receive the 2022 Gulf Guardian Award, in partnership with the Pontchartrain Conservancy.”

The project, “Pollution Source Tracking in Bayou Liberty Watershed,” focused on the removal of a tremendous amount of pollutants from Bayou Liberty and educating residents on how to maintain and operate their septic systems properly. The team included St. Tammany Parish Government’s Department of Environmental Services, Department of Grants and Department of Development, in partnership with the Pontchartrain Conservancy.

As a result of the inspection program and subsequent maintenance to homeowner sewer treatment systems, water quality improved remarkably. Dissolved Oxygen was substantially improved in the study area and neighborhood ditches went from foul to healthy, with reduced habitat for West Nile virus mosquitos.

The EPA-funded project was the pilot for the Parish’s Decentralized Management Program, in which 856 homeowner sewer systems were inspected and 77% came into compliance. The Parish is still working with the remaining 23% to come into compliance with their LDH permits.

Many of the resident’s systems are unpermitted septic tanks that require replacement. Parish Government is also working with low-to-moderate income residents to complete applications for HUD funding to repair or replace systems. 

The EPA’s Gulf Guardian Awards were created back in 2000 to recognize environmental excellence towards achieving and preserving healthy and resilient coasts in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, the five states that border the Gulf of Mexico.

The nominations went through an intense review and ranking process and “Pollution Source Tracking in Bayou Liberty Watershed” was ranked as a 1st Place winner in the Civic/Non-Profit Category.

The project was also the one in which the Parish won 1st Place in LDEQ’s 2019 Environmental Leadership Award (ELP).  

President Cooper was joined by Tim Brown, Director of Environmental Services, Jeanne Marino, Director of Grants, Dr. deEtte Smythe, Regulatory Manager, Timothy Smith, Environmental Specialist, Bridget Saladino, Grants Project Manager, and the Ponchartrain Conservancy to accept the prestigious Gulf Guardian Award from the EPA.

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