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Priority Oyster Restoration Project Characterization Report

BT-31: Install New and Improve Use of Pumpouts and Dump StationsPhoto of pumpout station at marina.

Watershed Implementation Assessment in Barataria and Terrebonne Bays
Shellfish Challenge Initiative Gulf of Mexico Program
Draft 6/10/97


Purpose of the Characterization Report

The purpose of this report is to provide sufficient background information and analysis for the Watershed Evaluation Team to make an informed decision on whether to pursue implementation of this Priority Oyster Restoration Project.

Index of ContentsSummary
Descriptive Information

Section 1: Project Identifiers

Section 2: Problem Description, Proposed Restoration Description, and Background Information

The Problem

Proposed Restoration Description

Background Information

Laws Prohibiting Sewage Discharges

On-Board Sewage Treatment and Holding Devices

Sewage Reception Facilities

Enforcement of Overboard Sewage Discharge Regulations

Clean Vessel Act

Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Clean Vessel Act Grant Program

Results of the CVA Grant Program's 1995 Survey

Section 3: The Affected Area

Recreational Marinas

Commercial Marinas, Boatyards, Fuel Docks, and Seafood Landing Docks

Public Boat Ramps and Docks

Section 4: Potential to Increase Areas Available for Safe Harvest and Other Project Benefits

Section 5: Potential Positive and Negative Interactions with Other Coastal Activities

Section 6: Cost Information

Section 7: Financing Mechanisms

Section 8: Current Status of and Factors Affecting Project Support

Section 9: Project Participants

Section 10: The Project's Relationship to Barataria-Terrebonne NEP's Comprehensive Conservation

and Management Plan

Action Plan for Implementation

Section 11: Potential Implementation Team

Section 12: Detailed Restoration Strategy Description

Section 13: Education and Outreach Opportunities to Further Project Implementation

 

Sources of Information

 

Index of Tables and Maps

Table 1. Louisiana CVA Grant Program Location Planning Results

Table 2. Coastal Marinas in Barataria and Terrebonne Bays

Table 3. Costs of Recent Spot Closures in Louisiana

Table 4. Various Views on Sector Support for Installing New and Using Pumpouts/Dump Stations

Table 5. Project Champions, Stakeholders, and Decision Makers

Map 1. Recreational Marina Locations

Map 2. Commercial Marina Locations

Map 3. Oil and Gas Platforms with a Sanitary Discharge

 


Summary

There are many opportunities for the Shellfish Challenge Initiative to assist the installation of new pumpouts and dump stations and improve the use of these sewage reception facilities. There is a readily-available existing funding source, the Clean Vessel Act Program, that provides 75 percent of the costs to marina owners for the installation and/or maintenance of sewage reception facilities. There are no pumpouts and only 2 dump stations at over 40 recreational marinas in Barataria and Terrebonne Bays. There is a large number of recreational boaters that could use additional facilities and many marina owners in the area have expressed interest in installing facilities. There is also a significant opportunity to explore installing pumpouts and dump stations at commercial marinas, boatyards, fuel docks, seafood landing docks, and public marinas maintained by the parishes. A targeted public education and outreach campaign has been started by the LA Division of Wildlife and Fisheries, but there are significant opportunities for expanding this effort and developing new partnerships with regional and local entities. Funding from the Clean Vessel Act Program might also be available for increased public education and outreach efforts. The implementation of this project also accomplishes many actions identified in the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program's Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan.

Descriptive Information

Section 1: Project Identifiers

Project Title

Install New and Improve Use of Marina Pumpouts

Project Reference Number

BT-31

Basin

Basin-wide

Parish

Plaquemines, Jefferson, Lafourche, Terrebonne

Local Communities Involved or Affected

None are directly involved or affected

 

Section 2: Problem Description, Proposed Restoration Strategy Description, and Background Information

 

The Problem

The discharge of sewage from recreational and commercial vessels (overboard sewage discharge) can result in adverse impacts to both humans and the environment. With respect to oyster harvesting, processing, distribution, and consumption, the discharge of sewage over or in the vicinity of oyster beds can cause:

 

Coastal Louisiana has over 165,000 registered boat owners (the state total is over 275,00), but there are only 8 sewage reception facilities at the 68 recreational marinas and unknown number of commercial docking facilities that serve this coastal boating and fishing community (DWF survey, 1995). As a point of reference to the small number of sewage reception facilities in coastal Louisiana, guidelines proposed by the Clean Vessel Act call for one pumpout for every 300 to 600 boats. There have been recent instances of human illness attributed to eating sewage-contaminated oysters from Louisiana and negative publicity from these events has damaged the Louisiana oyster industry's standing in the national market.

 

Proposed Restoration Strategy Description

Participants at the Shellfish Challenge Targeting Workshop (February 1997) agreed on an oyster restoration strategy for this problem: "install pumpouts where needed and improve use of present pumpout facilities by increasing enforcement and public awareness of the problem". The proposed plan for implementing this oyster restoration strategy has four parts (note that the relative effort to be applied to each of the parts still needs to be determined).

 

Background Information

There are several state and federal laws that apply to sewage discharge, marine sanitation devices, and sewage reception facilities. Federal requirements are specified under the Clean Water Act, the Clean Vessel Act, and the Coastal Zone Reauthorization Act. Applicable Louisiana laws include the State Sanitary Code, the Water Control Law, and the Natural and Scenic Rivers Act. Parish, municipal, and other local governmental agencies may also have rules and regulations.

Laws Prohibiting Sewage Discharges

Under federal law, it is illegal to discharge raw sewage from a vessel in US territorial waters, the Great Lakes, and navigable rivers. The Louisiana Water Control Law prohibits the discharge of any untreated sewage or sewage sludge. It also gives the Secretary of the Department of Environmental Quality the authority to establish standards and guidelines to prevent the discharge from vessels any trash, garbage, and untreated or improperly treated sewage or sewage sludge in an amount that would degrade water quality. Through the State Sanitary Code, the Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) regulates the discharge of sewage over oyster reefs.

On-Board Sewage Treatment and Holding Devices

Sewage discharge from vessels can be mitigated through the proper use of on-board sewage treatment and/or holding devices (OSD). The OSDs on recreational and commercial vessels typically used in Barataria and Terrebonne Bays range from a bucket to a portable toilet to an installed toilet with a holding tank.

Vessels with installed toilets must be equipped with a Marine Sanitation Device (MSD) certified by the US Coast Guard. There are three types of MSDs - a Type I MSD treats sewage with disinfectants, macerates the sewage, and discharges the treated sewage; a Type II MSD, with a larger treatment plant, provides a higher level of treatment than a Type I MSD, but also discharges the treated sewage; the different models of a Type III MSD, a recirculating system, an incinerating system, or a holding tank, do not have a discharge. The treated discharge from a Type I and Type II MSD cannot exceed an E. coli count of 1,000 and 100 per 100 milliliters, respectively. A Y-valve may be installed on Type III MSDs to allow the direct discharge of raw sewage when the vessel is outside US territorial waters, but the valve must be secured in a closed position while operating in US waters. Buckets and portable toilets are not considered installed toilets and are not subject to MSD regulations, however, it is illegal to empty portable toilets overboard in US territorial waters.

Manufacturers must label MSDs as US Coast Guard-approved. The label shows the name of the manufacturer, the name and model of the device, a certification number, the month and year of manufacture, and a certification statement. This serves as proof that the MSD has been tested to meet US Coast Guard regulations for design and construction and USEPA regulations and standards as required under the Clean Water Act. Holding tanks (Type III MSDs), which only contain and do not treat sewage on the vessel, are not labeled but are considered US Coast Guard approved if they are used to store sewage and flushwater. A holding tank must have enough reserve capacity to retain the wastes generated while the vessel is operating in waters where the discharge of sewage is prohibited.

In general, recreational vessels are not required to be equipped with a toilet, although US Coast Guard regulations require that any vessel, both recreational or commercial, over 65 feet must have a Type II or III MSD. For the oyster industry, there is a potential (i.e., being considered/discussed) requirement that oyster boats have at least a covered container with capacity for 2 gallons of sewage per person per day. Additionally, there is a requirement in the Sanitary Code that specifically prohibits overboard discharge of sewage over oyster reefs, even from Type I and Type II MSDs.

 

Sewage Reception Facilities

In inshore waters, OSDs are only effective if there is an appropriate system to receive the collected sewage. Through the use of a pump or vacuum, pumpouts are used for emptying a vessel's holding tank or, with a wand attachment, can be used to empty a portable toilet. Pumpouts can be fixed in position or set up as a portable unit on wheels, on a trailer, or on a boat (note that pumpouts on wheels are usually manually operated and are of a size that must be dumped after every use). Dump stations, which are normally fixed in position, are used for emptying portable toilets. Collected sewage must then be treated by the marina's sewage treatment system (connection to the public sewer system or to an individual treatment system) or be held in an on-site holding tank for later transport, via truck, to a regional treatment system.

There is a new Louisiana regulation that requires new or significantly expanded marinas to provide a pumpout or dump station.

 

Enforcement of Overboard Sewage Discharge Regulations

The US Coast Guard and DWF are responsible for enforcing overboard sewage discharge laws and both have the authority to give citations for violations. Most of this enforcement effort, especially for recreational and commercial vessels in inshore waters, is conducted by 90 DWF officers that work in coastal areas of Louisiana. DWF operates three planes for enforcement overflights in coastal areas.

In addition to the 90 DWF officers that work in coastal Louisiana, there is a four person Oyster Strike Force (OSF) that are dedicated to enforcing oyster-oriented regulations. The oyster industry helps fund OSF operations through proceeds from oyster harvesting license fees. The OSF monitors all phases of the oyster production process, from harvesting to the point of shipping the product, enforcing Title 56 DWF (e.g., leases, licenses, tags, harvesting, public seed grounds, depuration) and DHH (e.g., handling, packaging, shipping, relaying, overboard discharge) regulations.

There have been discussions about the grounds for giving a citation for overboard sewage discharges when sewage reception facilities are not conveniently available (gross violations are obviously not included in this discussion). A serious increase in enforcement efforts would not be warranted until pumpouts and dump stations are conveniently located and a public education and outreach campaign has been initiated to let people know where the facilities are and why is it important to use them.

Clean Vessel Act

The US Congress passed the Clean Vessel Act (CVA) in 1992 to reduce sewage discharges from recreational boats. One of the reasons for creating the CVA was the impact of sewage on harvestable shellfish resources. The CVA provides a cost reimbursement grant program to states for 75 percent of the expenses for constructing, renovating, operating, and maintaining pumpouts and dump stations. CVA grants may also be used to develop education and information programs to encourage boaters to use sewage reception facilities. All recreational vessels must be allowed access to pumpouts/dump stations funded under the CVA.

Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Clean Vessel Act Grant Program

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (DWF) has developed a Federally-approved plan to implement the CVA from 1992 to 1997 (although current funding will allow the Program to provide grants until 1999; Congress is also discussing the reauthorization of the CVA for another five years). Under this plan, the Louisiana CVA Grant Program provides grants for the construction, expansion, operation and maintenance of pumpouts and dump stations; construction of sewage holding facilities; connection to sewage treatment facilities; and development of public education and information programs. Ineligible projects include constructing or increasing capacity of an on-site wastewater treatment plant and constructing or renovating restroom facilities. The Program has two parts that are mainly administrative: coastal and inland.

The Program's success, as measured by the number of applications received and the number of new pumpouts/dump stations installed, has been moderate. While there are criteria and a methodology for competitive evaluation of the applications, the Program has always had the resources to fund applications on a first-come, first-serve basis. Relative to other states, the low number of applications may be due to the fact that Louisiana does not have laws requiring pumpouts/dump stations at marinas. In addition, Louisiana does not have stringent laws for MSD requirements on recreational or commercial vessels. Vessels with full holding tanks would require sewage reception facilities at marinas.

CVA grants can be used for purchasing, installing, and maintaining a pumpout or dump station, and for installing a holding tank for sewage collected with the pumpout/dump station. Grants can also be used for putting in a pipe to connect the pumpout to a sewage treatment system or holding tank. Grants cannot be used for installing or upgrading a sewage treatment system shared with other sewage-producing facilities (e.g., restrooms at the marina). This restriction has served as a disincentive to Louisiana's Program, as marinas in coastal Louisiana are often far from public treatment facilities, making connection impossible and transportation of holding tank contents expensive. In addition, installing a pumpout requires that the Department of Health and Hospitals permit proper connection to a sewage treatment system and available capacity. If a marina's current individual sewage treatment system capacity limits or current connection to a public sewer is inadequate, it will be cited in such a compliance review.

The focus of the Program is to install sewage reception facilities at recreational marinas. While no language specifically prohibits the use of CVA grants at docks other than recreational marinas, the Clean Vessel Act does stipulate that a CVA-funded sewage reception facility must be made available to anyone who wishes to use it (i.e., the general public). Therefore, the installation of a pumpout or dump station at a commercial marina, boatyard, fuel dock, or seafood landing dock does appear to be an option, but the commercial marina would have to serve any demand from recreational boats.

To receive a CVA grant, the marina owner must submit an application package that includes a grant application; a program narrative letter; a cost estimate (for both equipment purchases and installation contracting); an appraisal of the value of the in-kind property contribution; a project location map; a project site plan; site drawings; a plat and legal description; photographs of the proposed site; evidence of property control; an Authority to Execute Cooperative Endeavor Agreement; sewage disposal permits from the Department of Health and Hospitals; and environmental compliance permits from Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Department of Natural Resources, Department of Environmental Quality, and/or US Army Corps of Engineers, if necessary.

The cost estimate must include at least three written quotations and the Program will fund 75 percent of the lowest price quote. A 25 percent match, in cash or in-kind services related to planning and installing the pumpout/dump station, must be provided by the marina owner. On average, the cash value of this match amounts from $3000 to $5000. To help defray operational and maintenance costs, marina owners are allowed to charge a maximum of $5.00 per use of pumpouts/dump stations constructed with a CVA grant, but very few marinas in Louisiana actually charge for this service. The marina owner's compliance responsibilities include preparing an operational plan for the sewage reception facility, ensuring availability, posting markers and signs indicating the pumpout/dump station's presence, keeping an operational log, and maintaining insurance on the device.

It appears that the match money requirement, the logistical "red-tape" of arranging installation and acquiring necessary permits, and the cost-reimbursement nature (versus up-front money) of the Program have all served as disincentives to installing sewage reception facilities.

The Program's public education and information effort includes a wide range of activities. Initial efforts were focused on marina owners, sending letters to all owners describing the Program and the availability of grant application packages. DWF has coordinated educational and outreach activities with USFWS which produces national level educational materials. The Program's efforts, either completed or in progress, include:

 

Results of the CVA Grant Program's 1995 Survey

DWF surveyed recreational boat owners and marina owners to assess needs of the CVA Grant Program and then scored and ranked locations for installing new pumpouts and dump stations (Table 1). Final location planning considered several factors, including the needs assessment; waterbody rankings; the needs and desires of boaters and marina operators; sewage services at marinas; proximity of other marinas with sewage reception facilities; and water quality at projected locations.

Table 1. Louisiana CVA Grant Program Location Planning Results
Planned Locations for Installing New Sewage Reception Facilities in Barataria and Terrebonne Bays

Area Dump Station Pumpout

Leeville

÷

Lafitte

÷

Port Sulphur area

÷

Grand Isle area

÷

÷

Empire/Buras

÷

÷

Pointe aux Chien

÷

Fourchon

÷

÷

Section 3: The Affected Area

Recreational Marinas

As discussed above, the focus of the Clean Vessel Act is to install sewage reception facilities at recreational marinas. There are approximately 42 recreational marinas in Barataria and Terrebonne Bays with a slip/mooring capacity of over 1880 vessels (Table 2). Among these 42 marinas, none have pumpouts and only two have dump stations. As most of these marinas have restrooms, it can be assumed that there is an available sewage treatment system (although the level of its functionality cannot be assumed). Note that in coastal Louisiana, current trends indicate that there are not many large recreational marinas being built, but there are many "mom and pop" marinas moving in and out of operation.

Table 2. Coastal Marinas in Barataria and Terrebonne Bays*

Marina Name Location Nearest City Total Slips and Moorings Sewage Reception Facilities Rest-rooms

Plaquemines Parish

Cypress Cove Marina, Inc.

Tiger Pass

Venice

140

None

Y

Delta Marina

Doullut Canal

Empire

5

None

Y

Happy Jack Marina

Happy Jack Canal

Port Sulphur

--

None

Y

Hi Ridge Marina

Grand Bayou

Port Sulphur

15

None

Y

Joshua's Marina

Buras Canal

Buras

8+

None

Y

Lake Hermitage Marina

Lake Hermitage

--

--

None

--

Myrtle Grove Marina

Wilkinson Canal

Belle Chasse

--

None

Y

Riverside Marina

Mississippi River

Empire/Buras

--

None

--

Venice Marina, Inc.

Tiger Pass

Venice

109

Dump Station

Y

Jefferson Parish

Bayou Fuel, Marine, and Hardware

Barataria Waterway

Lafitte

100

None

--

Bon Voyage Marina, Inc.

Caminada Bay

Grand Isle

160

None

Y

Bridge Side Marina, Inc.

Caminada Bay

Grand Isle

60

Dump Station

Y

Cigar's Marina

Gulf of Mexico

Grand Isle

65

None

Y

Cocohiaria Marina

Bayou Barataria

Lafitte

300

None

Y

Joe Bob's Marina

Gulf of Mexico

Grand Isle

50

None

--

Joe's Landing

Bayou Barataria

Barataria

--

None

Y

Joe's Marina

Barataria Bay

Lafitte

--

None

--

Lafitte C-Way Marina, Inc.

Barataria Waterway

Lafitte

105

None

Y

Lafitte Harbor Marina

Bayou Barataria

Lafitte

45

None

Y

Pirate's Cove Marina

Barataria Pass

Grand Isle

94

None

Y

Rosethorn Park

Barataria Bay

Lafitte

--

None

--

Sand Dollar Marina

Barataria Bay

Grand Isle

46

None

Y

Lafourche Parish

Bayou Blue Marina

Bayou Blue

Larose

22

None

Y

BBY Marina

Bayou Lafourche

Leeville

--

None

--

Bobby Lynn's Marina

Bayou Lafourche

Golden Meadow

68

None

Y

Bob's Bayou Black Marina, Inc.

Shell Barge Canal

Thibodaux

28

None

Y

Boudreaux's Motel

Texaco Canal

Golden Meadow

25

None

Y

Griffin's Station and Marina

Bayou Lafourche

Galliano

10

None

Y

Charlie Hardison & Sons, Inc.

Bayou Fourchon

Golden Meadow

50

None

Y

Irving P Melancon Recreational Boat Launch

Unnamed canal

Galliano

1

None

Y

Port Fourchon Marina

Bayou Lafourche

Galliano

48

None

N

Terrebonne Parish

Bayou Black Marina

Bayou Black

Gibson

--

None

--

Bayou du Large

Falgout Canal

--

225

None

--

B.J. Landing

Houma Navigation Canal

Dulac

26

None

--

Boudreaux's Marina

Houma Navigation Canal

Dulac

--

None

Y

Cannon's Shade Tree Boat Landing, Inc.

Bayou Black

Houma

--

None

Y

Coco Marina

Houma Navigation Canal

Chauvin

34

None

Y

Fisherman's Landing

Bayou Chauvin

Chauvin

--

None

--

Sportsman's Paradise

Bayou Petit Caillou

Chauvin

20

None

--

Sunset Marina

Houma Navigation Canal

Dulac

21

None

--

Sunshine Marina

Ship channel from Bayou Grand Caillou

Dulac

1

None

Y

Uncle Bar's Dulac Beach

Bayou Grand Caillou

Dulac

4

None

--

* Data from Louisiana Sea Grant 1995 Marina Directory, DNR Marina Database, and LA DWF "A Guide to Marine Sewage Disposal Stations in Coastal Louisiana" brochure

Map 1 Placeholder

Map of recreational marinas that highlights priority marinas identified in the 1995 CVA Grant Program survey (Table 1) and priority areas identified at the November Stakeholder Meetings

Interest in the CVA Grant Program has varied in Plaquemines, Jefferson, Lafourche, and Terrebonne parishes. As reasons for not pursuing a CVA grant, recreational marina owners cite high up-front costs, hassles with obtaining permits, the need for extra employees to man the pumpout/dump station, lack of pier space, and the requirement to allow public access. It appears, though, that opportune situations to install pumpouts/dump stations exist, if the CVA Grant Program partnered with local entities, such as the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service agents. These agents personally know the marina owners and their circumstances. The following serves as an example opportune situation:

_ The Cypress Cove Marina, one of the two large recreational marinas in Plaquemines Parish, has demonstrated significant interest in providing sewage reception facilities to its customers. The primary problem here is that the marina is 1 to 1.5 miles from the nearest sewer line and the marina owner determined that his cost share under the CVA Grant Program to put in a sewage reception facility, a small pump, and a line of pipe to connect to sewer is prohibitive. An opportunity persists though, because a hotel will soon be constructed next to the Cypress Cove marina and will have to be connected to this sewer line.

Commercial Marinas, Boatyards, Fuel Docks, and Seafood Landing Docks

There are many other opportunities to install pumpouts and dump stations throughout Barataria and Terrebonne Bays besides recreational marinas. In fact sewage reception facilities at high-traffic commercial docks may be a more effective way to reduce overboard sewage discharges over or near oyster reefs.

Plaquemines Parish

Parish officials have conceptual plans to put standardized pumpouts at all of the parish-owned commercial marinas; these are located in Point a la Hache, Empire, Buras, and Venice (there is a new section of the Empire marina being constructed in Empire). All of these marinas participate in a public recycled oil collection program and the Parish is considering installing sewage reception facilities. There is a high concentration of oyster boats docked in Empire (approximately 140 oyster vessels). There is a smaller concentration of oyster boats docked in Port Sulphur.

Jefferson Parish

There are no large commercial marinas in Jefferson Parish (editor's note, what about Grand Isle?). There are no consistently used oyster unloading docks in Jefferson Parish, as most are trucked to New Orleans processing facilities by the individual harvesters.

Lafourche Parish

The Nirby Collins marina, within the parish's Port Fourchon port facility, docks and serves the largest concentration of commercial fishing vessels in Lafourche Parish (the contact here is Ted Falgout, Executive Director of the Greater Lafourche Port Commission). Griffin Marina, in Leeville, also sells fuel and ice and serves as a catch landing dock for a large concentration of commercial fishing vessels. Griffin Marina also participates in a public recycled oil collection program.

Terrebonne Parish

There are large concentrations of commercial fishing vessels at four docks in the parish; these include both commercial marinas and shimper docks. There are also at least four seafood landing docks used frequently by parish oyster harvesters: docks in Dulac, Montegut, Bayou du Large, and Cocodrie.

Map 2 Placeholder

If data are available, a map of commercial marinas, boatyards, fuel docks, and/or seafood landing docks.

Public Boat Ramps and Docks

Public boat ramps and docks do not offer the most advantageous sites for installing pumpouts and dump stations because boats normally pulled out of the water on a boat ramp are of a size that do not have (and are not required to have) installed toilets and holding tanks. Some of these smaller boats might have portable toilets that could be emptied into a dump station. Some public boat ramps, though, are located in areas where larger recreational and commercial boats moor. There are at least three possible sites for installing sewage collection facilities at public boat ramps in Barataria and Terrebonne Bays:

Section 4: Potential to Increase Areas Available for Safe Harvest and Other Project Benefits

Outbreaks of gastroenteritis associated with the Norwalk (or Norwalk-like) virus have caused five significant spot-closures in Louisiana since 1982. All five outbreaks were linked to illnesses associated with the consumption of raw oysters and caused significant areas of public oyster seed grounds and private oyster leases to be closed to harvest. Although the exact mechanism by which the suspect oysters became contaminated is being investigated, there is general agreement that overboard discharges were a principal contributor to at least two of the five closure events - the 1993 closure at Cabbage Reef and the 1997 closure at Black Bay. Other closures include: the event at Caillou Lake and at St. Mary's Point from November 11 to 26, 1982 was cited in 450 cases of illness; a Norwalk-like virus outbreak linked to an oil platform around Stone Island in February 1996; closures in Black Bay, Lake Fortuna, and Lake Machias from February 23 to April 13, 1996 were cited in 75 cases of illness in four states - this closure is thought to have been caused by raw sewage discharge from a manned oil platform).

There are significant costs associated with spot-closures, both from the lack of production in the closed area during the closure and, more importantly, from the reduction in sack price due to decreased demand for Louisiana oysters (Table 3). Negative press about Louisiana oyster causing illness consistently decreases demand for the product.

Table 3. Costs of Recent Spot Closures in Louisiana

Spot-Closure Event

1993 Cabbage Reef 1997 Black Bay
Dates of Closure*

November 16 to

December 15, 1993

January 3 to

January 23, 1997

Length of Closure (days)*

29

21

Closure Location*

Grand Pass/Cabbage Reef

Black Bay, Lake Machias, Lake Fortuna, California Bay, Bay Crabe, Bay Gardene, American Bay, Bay Lafourche

Estimated Lost Production**

89,217 sacks

54,211 barrels of seed

100,045 sacks

0 barrels of seed

Value of Estimated Lost Production***

$1.23 million

(in 1993 dollars)

$1.16 million

(in 1997 dollars)

Cases of Illness*

132

159

States with Illnesses*

5

5

Negative Press?**

N/A

Yes

Sack Price Before and After the Closure**

N/A

$18 before

$13 after

* Source: DHH/OPH/ES, 1997; DHH/OPH/ES, 1996; Kohn et al, 1995; and Ken Hemphill, DHH, personal communication.

** Source: Ron Dugas, DWF, personal communication; 1993 Cabbage Reef closure -- 3,879 sacks per day and 2,357 barrels of seed per day (based on average daily production from November 1 to15, 1996) * 23 fishable days (assuming approximately 80 percent of 29 days were fishable); 1997 Black Bay closure -- 5,885 sacks per day and no barrels of seed per day (based on December 10, 1996 DWF Boarding Report) * 17 fishable days (assuming approximately 80 percent of 21 days were fishable).

*** Source: With assistance from Walter Keithly, LSU, the value of estimated lost production was calculated [value = revenues ((number of sacks * 6 lbs. oyster meats per sack * price per lb.) + (number of barrels * 2 sacks per barrel * 6 lbs. oyster meats per sack * price per lb.)) - costs ($4.00 per sack)] using the following values and assumptions: 1993 price per lb. oyster meats, $1.70; 1997 price per lb. oyster meats, $2.60; costs are $4.00 per sack harvested; 6 lbs. oyster meats per sack; 2 sacks per barrel of oysters; 1 sack planted equals 1 sack harvested; note that all values and assumptions are conservative.

The successful implementation of all parts of this project (Parts 1 through 4), and the resultant reduction in overboard sewage discharges into Barataria and Terrebonne Bays, could significantly reduce the number of spot-closures caused by increased fecal coliform bacteria counts in oyster harvesting areas normally classified as open. This would reduce the number of harvest-days lost to oyster harvesters in those areas and therefore would mitigate impacts to local and regional economies.

A general reduction in overboard sewage discharges might also reduce fecal coliform bacteria counts in high boat traffic areas around marinas, boat ramps, and popular fishing spots. This may cause or contribute to an inland movement of the seasonal classification line or an upgrade in prohibited and restricted closures. In addition, the general reduction of overboard sewage discharges might reduce public health hazards associated with swimming in these high boat traffic areas. Successful implementation might also reduce the number of illness and disease events caused by humans eating sewage-contaminated oysters, and therefore reduce the resulting negative publicity about Louisiana oysters.

The timeframe to see possible results could be immediately after installation of new sewage reception facilities and inception of a public education and outreach campaign (Parts 1 and 3). Reductions in overboard sewage discharges could immediately impact the number and severity of spot-closures in the region, as well other benefits listed above.

Success for this project can be measured many ways and appropriate indicators of success will have to be developed, based on desired project endpoints. Programmatic-oriented successes could be claimed by the production of this Characterization Report and convening a meeting of the Implementation Team. Action-oriented successes could be claimed by installing a specified number of pumpouts/dump stations and distributing a specified number of brochures and maps about these facilities. Results-oriented successes could be claimed by reducing the number of illnesses and illness events or the occurrence, acreage, and duration of spot-closures attributed to overboard sewage discharges. Depending on the desired project endpoint, indicators and a baseline for each indicator should be developed.

Section 5: Potential Positive and Negative Interactions with Other Coastal Activities

There do not appear to be any negative interactions with other coastal activities such as coastal restoration projects (e.g., freshwater and sediment diversion, siphons, dredged material placement, wetland creation), navigation projects (e.g., dredging, channels, locks), flood control projects (e.g., stormwater dispersion, levees, terraces, canals, ditches), or erosion control projects (e.g., wetland and barrier island restoration).

There are potential project interactions with oil and gas activities (e.g., exploration and extraction) in nearshore areas in the vicinity of oyster reefs. Sanitary discharges from manned oil and gas platforms have been implicated in releases of sewage that have caused recent illness events and spot-closures of oyster harvesting areas (e.g., at Stone Island in February 1996 and in Black Bay in April 1996). All impacts from sanitary discharges can be mitigated by including sewage discharges with the produced waters that are normally injected back into the ground during oil extraction processes. The location of oil and gas platforms with sanitary discharges should be determined and then the relative impact of sewage discharges from oil and gas platforms versus overboard sewage discharges should be considered in the implementation of this project.

Map 3 Placeholder

If data are available, a map of all oil and gas platforms with a sanitary discharge (approved vs. unapproved).

Section 6: Cost Information

Relative to other strategies for reducing fecal coliform bacteria inputs to Barataria and Terrebonne Bays this project is low cost, and it already has an established funding mechanism. From the experience of the Louisiana CVA Grant Program, the average cost to the marina owner for purchasing and installing a pumpout is $12,000 to $15,000, although some applications have applied for $20,000 to $50,000. Marina owners are responsible for 25 percent of the total cost, either as cash or in-kind services related to installing the pumpout. The 75 percent grant is reimbursed to the marina owner after installation of the sewage reception facility. Maintenance costs are normally assumed by the marina owner, although CVA grants are also available for major maintenance. Even though they are allowed to charge up to $5 per use of a pumpout/dump station installed with a CVA grant, most marina owners provide pumpout service to their customers free of charge.

Section 7: Financing Mechanisms

Traditional opportunities and the potential to obtain them

Alternative financing opportunities

Probability of receiving funding

Cost to local community (local share)

Cost to state (state share)

Section 8: Current Status of and Factors Affecting Project Support

Relative to other coastal states, the level of activity in the Louisiana CVA Grant Program has been low to moderate (especially considering that Louisiana Senator John Breaux was one of the Act's sponsors). To date, only a few public and private recreational marinas have applied to the Program for grants.

The moderate level of activity appears to be due, in part, to a general lack of knowledge about the Program and, more importantly, a general lack of knowledge about the adverse impacts associated with overboard sewage discharges. In some instances, there appears to be misinformation about the Program, especially as relates to who can apply for grants. Increased personal contact may be an effective method to disseminate information about the Program and combat misinformation.

An increased number of grant applications from recreational marinas can probably be generated with increased and more targeted public education and outreach efforts. Similar education and outreach efforts targeted towards commercial marinas, boatyards, fuel docks, and seafood landing docks may generate some grant applications, especially from parish owned/managed docks (this is especially true in Plaquemines Parish, were support for installing new pumpouts at four parish-owned marinas is very high). Table 4 shows the level of general support for this project, which varies widely depending on the entity being considered and the source of information.

Table 4. Various Views on Sector Support for Installing New and Using Pumpouts/Dump Stations

Entity Level of Support Notes Source

Louisiana CVA Grant Program

High

The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is very interested in working with the Shellfish Challenge Initiative in generating more grant applications and increasing public education and outreach efforts.

Project Team

Recreational Marina Owners

Low to High

After an initial flood of applications at program inception, there has been low to moderate interest in the CVA Grant Program. Independent marina owners are leery of government, but personal contact may increase interest in the Program. The paperwork involved in developing a grant application is burdensome, and serves as a disincentive for many marina owners, both large and small. General interest is high as pumpouts are a desired service to provide to customers; high up-front costs and permitting red tape have served as serious roadblocks to actual installation of the systems.

Marina and Boatyard Association, Louisiana CVA Grant Program, Multiple LCES Fisheries Agents

Marina and Boatyard Association

High

Relative to the low level of activity from other marina organizations, they have been actively involved.

Louisiana CVA Grant Program

Recreational Boaters

Moderate

This group will use facilities if they are conveniently available.

LCES Fisheries Agent

Commercial Fishers, in general

Low to High

There is some understanding of the problems caused by overboard sewage discharges, but it is a low priority for fishers in general. As the problem more directly affects the oyster industry, there is a higher level of support among leaders of the oyster industry.

LCES Fisheries Agent

Commercial Oyster Harvesters

Low to High

Many oyster industry leaders strongly support efforts to reduce overboard sewage discharges, including the installation of pumpouts and dump stations at commercial marinas and seafood landing docks. There is an increasing understanding throughout the industry of problems caused by overboard discharges, i.e., there is a growing awareness that overboard sewage discharges can adversely affect the industry. On the other hand, there are many oyster harvesters that do not believe that overboard discharges cause illness, primarily because they continuously discharge overboard and illness events are relatively infrequent; in addition, these harvesters regularly eat oysters during harvesting trips. A serious targeted education effort would be required to attain regular pumpout use by any majority of oysters harvesters.

LA Oyster Growers and Dealers Association, DWF Enforcement Officers, Multiple LCES Fisheries Agents

Section 9: Project Participants

To successfully implement this project, an Implementation Team (IT), made up of all involved or affected stakeholders, will have to be formed and convened. Table 5 (see next page)details possible participants of the IT. Project Champions are committed local advocates that would serve as the Team Leader(s) of the IT. The rest of the IT would be made up of other Champions and Stakeholders critical to building project support and implementing the project. The IT's purpose is to "sell" the project's implementation to the Decision Makers, who actually have the authority and/or funding to implement the project.

Table 5. Project Champions, Stakeholders, and Decision Makers

Champions Stakeholders Decision Makers
New Pumpouts/Dump Stations

_ Marina Owners/Associations

_ Louisiana Oyster Dealers and Growers Association

_ Plaquemines Parish Government

_ Jefferson Parish Government

_ Lafourche Parish Government

_ Terrebonne Parish Government

_ Consumer Safety Groups

Public Education/Outreach Effort

_ BTNEP

_ New Orleans Power Squadron

_ DWF

_ LA Sea Grant

_ LCES

_ Gulf of Mexico Program

_ USFWS

_ Oyster Industry

_ Commercial Fishers, General

_ Marina Owners/Associations

_ Recreational Fishers

_ Oil and Gas Industry

_ Pumpout Vendors

_ Engineering Companies

_ Plaquemines Parish Government

_ Jefferson Parish Government

_ Lafourche Parish Government

_ Terrebonne Parish Government

_ Consumer Safety Groups

_ Environmental Finance Center

_ BTNEP

_ New Orleans Power Squadron

_ DEQ

_ DHH/OPH

_ DWF

_ Marina Owners/Associations

_ Louisiana Legislature

_ DEQ

_ DHH/OPH

_ DWF

_ USCG

_ USEPA

_ USFWS

_ US Coast Guard Auxiliary

_ DWF Enforcement

_ LA Sea Grant

_ LCES

_ USCG Auxiliary

_ USEPA

_ USFWS


Section 10: The Project's Relationship to the Barataria-Terrebonne NEP's Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan

The implementation of Parts 1 through 4 of the Proposed Restoration Strategy Description (Section 2) directly accomplishes or attains significant initial progress on several actions in BTNEP's Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP). The bullets represent the reference number and text of actions in the BTNEP CCMP.

General Implementation of the Project  
Part 1 - Increasing the number of pumpouts and dump stations in the study area.

Action Plan for Implementation

Section 11: Potential Implementation Team

This section identifies project participants that would be good candidates to serve on the Implementation Team (IT) for this Priority Oyster Restoration Project. The goal of convening the IT is to develop a detailed strategy for implementing the project that provides the best opportunities to "sell" implementation to those with the authority and/or funding to act.

Possible Team Co-Leaders:

Possible Team Members:

Section 12: Detailed Restoration Strategy Description

The Louisiana CVA Grant Program is interested is expending all of its funds for new pumpout/dump station installation, operation and maintenance, and public education and outreach efforts. A list of preliminary ideas for the Shellfish Challenge Project to assist the Program in this goal follows. If this project is selected for implementation, the Implementation Team could use this initial list of ideas to develop a detailed, strategic plan to implement this project (the focus of the Implementation Feasibility Workshop).

Part 1 - Increasing the number of pumpouts and dump stations in the study area.
Part 2 - Increase public education and outreach activities.
Part 3 - Increasing enforcement of overboard sewage discharge regulations.
Part 4 - Investigate on-board sewage treatment technologies.
Section 13: Education and Outreach Opportunities to Further Project Implementation

Coordinate public education and outreach efforts of DWF, USFWS, Gulf of Mexico Program, BTNEP, LCES, LA Sea Grant, and local nonprofit organizations into a comprehensive strategy.

Sources of Information

Written Materials

Department of Health and Hospitals, Office of Public Health, Epidemiology Section. 1997. Louisiana Morbidity Report, Vol. 8, Num. 1, January-February 1997.

Department of Health and Hospitals, Office of Public Health, Epidemiology Section. 1996. Louisiana Morbidity Report, Vol. 7, Num. 3, May-June 1996.

Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, Coastal Management Division. List of marinas in Louisiana from Coastal Use Permits database. September, 1996.

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Socioeconomic Research and Development Section. 1995. Clean Vessel Act Grant Program: Louisiana's Survey, Plan, and Grant Proposal, June 1995.

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. 1995. A Guide to Marine Sewage Disposal Stations in Coastal Louisiana, brochure.

Louisiana Sea Grant College Program. 1995. Louisiana Marina Directory.

Kohn, Melvin A., et. al. An Outbreak of Norwalk Virus Gastroenteritis Associated With Eating Raw Oysters: Implications for Maintaining Safe Oyster Beds. Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 273, Num. 6, February 8, 1995.

Interviews

Buddy Pausina, LA Oyster Growers and Dealers Association

David Keyser, Marina and Boatyard Association of Louisiana

Tim Trapani, Maritime Sanitation, Pumpout Vendor/Installation Contractor

Jerome Zeringue, LCES, Fisheries Agent

Alan Matherne, LCES, Fisheries Agent

Jerald Horst, LCES, Fisheries Agent

Paul Thibodeaux, LCES, Fisheries Agent

Brian LeBlanc, LCES, Fisheries Agent

Don Lee, DWF, Wallop-Breaux Boatramp Program

David LaVergne, DWF, Louisiana CVA Grant Program

Brian McManus, DWF, Louisiana CVA Grant Program

Herb Holloway, DWF, Louisiana CVA Grant Program

Keith LaCaze, DWF Enforcement Division

Debra Berg, DHH/OPH Epidemiology Section

Ken Hemphill, DHH/OPH Oyster Water Monitoring Program

Ron Dugas, DWF, Oyster Program

Walter Keithly, LSU, Fisheries Economist

Outstanding Interviews

Joe Tusa, LA Association of Coastal Anglers, 504-486-0677

Jeff Andrews, Coastal Conservation Association, 504-344-4222

John Green, Green Marine, Pumpout Vendor, 504-833-7386

Ted Falgout, Greater Lafourche Port Commission

George Barasisch, LA Commercial Fishermen's Association, (call Beau Weber, 504-464-7464, for number)

Gulf of Mexico Program Office
Mail Code: EPA/GMPO
Stennis Space Center, MS 39529-6000
228-688-3726
FAX: 228-688-2709


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