U.S. EPA brings together local stakeholders for cleaner waterways
The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality presented an Environmental Leadership Award to the Board of Commissioners of the Port of New Orleans at a ceremony held recently at DEQ’s headquarters in Baton Rouge, La. The award recognizes environmental achievement for voluntary pollution prevention efforts, community environmental outreach initiatives and environmental management systems that are above and beyond regulatory compliance.
The port received its award March 25 for its Stormwater Management Program, which included educational outreach and employee involvement to mark storm drains throughout the port’s property. Cathy Dunn, the port’s director of development and Amelia Pellegrin, environmental services director, received the award at the ceremony.
“The Environmental Leadership Program recognizes voluntary pollution reductions by government, schools, businesses and community groups in Louisiana,” DEQ secretary Peggy Hatch said. “Award winners have gone above and beyond regulation to combat pollution, spearhead community outreach efforts, or present educational programs that make a positive difference in the quality of Louisiana’s environment.”
Port president and CEO Gary LaGrange said the results of a renewed environmental focus are good for the entire port community and the region as a whole.
“The Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain belong to everyone,” LaGrange said. “We want to be good guardians of natural resources and good stewards of our waterways. The Port’s focus on a greener footprint will benefit all for generations to come.”
As part of efforts to improve water quality, the Port recently partnered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), DEQ, and multiple local organizations to address trash and litter in waterways. This effort is a pilot project in EPA’s Trash Free Waters national program. The port’s board adopted a resolution March 30 committing the port to further stakeholder engagement, education and outreach, and clean-up events to prevent trash and litter from reaching waterways.
“Keeping trash out of our nation’s waters brings environmental, aesthetic, and economic benefits to coastal communities,” said EPA Regional Administrator Ron Curry. “The Port of New Orleans will serve as a model for bringing diverse stakeholders together to reduce trash pollution and improve water quality.”
Local organizations involved in the port’s Trash Free Waters initiative include stevedores Ports America, New Orleans Terminal, Coastal Cargo Company, Southern Recycling, Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, University of New Orleans, New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board, Regional Planning Commission and many more including representatives from the business community and trucking industry.
“The Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation appreciates the opportunity to be part of such a proactive initiative to clean storm water before it enters Lake Pontchartrain,” said Andrea Bourgeois-Calvin, PhD, the foundation’s water quality director. “The port shows that as industries, businesses, and individuals we can all play a role in keeping debris and litter out of the storm water and out of our lake.”
Karen Parsons, principal planner for the New Orleans Regional Planning Commission added, “The Regional Planning Commission is proud to have partnered with the Port of New Orleans in establishing the first Trash Free Waters policy that could very well lead a nationwide renaissance in port watershed cleanup. This is an immense step toward ensuring litter-free waters in our future.”