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EBR to invest in stormwater cleaning systems to stop litter, debris from entering waterways

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BATON ROUGE - The City-Parish will soon be making a big investment in parish waterways. It's all part of keeping in compliance with the city's MS4 permit.

The city is working to purchase a litter-catching system it plans to install near Corporation Canal, LSU's North Gate and on East State Street.

The CDS hydrodynamic separator by Contech Engineered Solutions separates trash and debris from stormwater runoff. It captures 100% of floatables and buoyant debris 2.4 mm or larger. The underground system ties into the existing infrastructure and can do its job no matter the intensity of the rain event. A crew removes the separated debris with a vacuum truck from the manhole.

"If we can catch it before it gets in the waterways, that certainly will be a big plus — and out of sight out of mind — it will be once you don't see it, but when we come and clean it, we'll know that it's doing exactly what it's supposed to do," said Fred Raiford, Transportation and Drainage Director.

Tens of thousands of the units have been installed in cities around the country and are especially popular in Florida. Baton Rouge plans to start with two.

Raiford says the system works, but it doesn't come cheap: The unit costs about $35,000 and doesn't include installation costs. It's the price to keep waterways clean.

Right now, the parish maintains three boom systems. One is in Corporation Canal near East Chimes Street and Carlotta Street. The others are at Bayou Duplantier, where Siegen Lane turns into Burbank Drive, and another near City Park Lake by Stanford Avenue.

Friday, the boom in Corporation Canal seemed to be full of Styrofoam cups, plastic containers, balls and a cooler. It was last cleaned a week and a half ago.

"This material you see over here doesn't fall from the sky," Raiford said.

The city recognizes a real issue with litter finding its way into the waterways, whether it be from people throwing trash on the side of the road, or it blowing in the wind. The plan is to stop it from reaching the waterways in the first place.

"It's very unsightly to look at what we're looking at here in relationship to what water quality should be," Raiford said.

The city plans to purchase and install the two underground units within the next two months.

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