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Vermilion River Still Polluted Because There Are Still Stupid People

Bayou Vermilion (Photo by Julie Hebert)
Bayou Vermilion (Photo by Julie Hebert)

I know that my mom wouldn’t be happy with me putting that title on this story, but I believe it in my heart: if you don’t realize that throwing trash out of your car window in Lafayette (or any city that Bayou Vermilion runs through) pollutes the Vermilion River, you have passed up “ignorant” and are now stuck on “stupid”.

There have been several campaigns to raise awareness about dumping ANYTHING in Lafayette, whether it be cigarette butts out of your window, oil and other fluids in your yard, storm drain, or neighbor’s yard (I’ve seen it done!), THE MAJORITY OF WHAT IS ON THE GROUND IN LAFAYETTE MAKES IT WAY TO THE RIVER! Everyone in Lafayette should know that by now.

According to this Tulane University report (2014), the way our drainage is set up in Lafayette, the majority of what is on the ground here eventually makes it way to the Vermilion River. Granted, the river is cleaner than it once was, but is still not as clean as it should be. Efforts by people like the Bayou Vermilion District and other civic organizations and individuals have improved the conditions of the bayou, but we have a long way to go.

The story commends people like John Cairns who, as a Boy Scout at the age of 14, embarked on a project to label all storm drains in Lafayette with a blue marker that states “No Dumping, Drains To Bayou”, just to remind people to do the right thing. They also brought up Lafayette’s League of Women Voters who held a forum on the correct disposal of waste. The word is out, and everyone should know by now not to litter, because littering equates to polluting the Vermilion.

I could get on a soap box and talk about the selfish people who, without even thinking about it, will flick their cigarette butt onto the ground, but I won’t  OH MY GOODNESS, DON”T YOU KNOW THAT YOU ARE LITTERING?!?! DON’T YOU KNOW THAT YOU ARE MAKING ACADIANA A LESS DESIRABLE PLACE BECAUSE OF YOUR IGNORANCE AND/OR APATHY???!? HAVE SOME RESPECT FOR OTHERS, YOUR COMMUNITY AND YOURSELF, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! YOU IGNORANT TWIT! do that because all that does is makes me feel better; it doesn’t help remedy the problem.

What will help remedy the problem? You and me, calling out the people we see littering. You don’t have to do it in a way that will embarrass them in front of their friends or strangers or in a way that will put you in danger (why do litterers want to retaliate when you call them out??), but do let them know that you saw what they did, and that what they did is wrong. It will take those of us that care about our community and our environment stepping up to be the voice of the river, and of our environment.

Bayou Vermilion (Photo by Barbara Williams Dellinger)
Bayou Vermilion (Photo by Barbara Williams Dellinger)

People are scared to swim in the Vermilion near Lafayette, and they are also reluctant to eat any fish caught there. On the Acadiana subReddit, several people advised against consuming anything taken from the river:

Fish from Vermilion/Reddit
Fish from Vermilion/Reddit

E-vanced said: “I wouldn’t eat the fish…”. Mamaodi said: “..would not recommend eating anything that you catch.” ToddNew said: “Catch and release only, can’t get myself to a place where I’d eat anything from it.” – comments from Reddit

The Bayou Vermilion District, according to the report, removes between 90 and 150 barrels of waste from the Vermilion River each week. Floating debris, from cigarette butts to styrofoam cups, plates, toys, boating refuse, cans, bottles, etc., which all (or most) could be avoided if people didn’t litter. Also, larger items like tires, refrigerators, washers, dryers, even cars that people dump into the river or its tributaries.

I’m not hating on smokers, motorists, residents or business owners; I am hating on litterbugs. I am hating on those smokers, motorists, residents and business owners who don’t realize that we are all in this together. It’s your river and it’s my river, but it’s not your river to abuse.

Let’s clean it up, Acadiana.

Bayou Vermilion Boat Festival Parade

(Media Nola, Bayou Vermilion District)

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