PEARL RIVER, LA (WVUE) - An expert with the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation suggests steering clear of a section of the lake after more than a million gallons of hazardous waste spewed into the Bogue Chitto last week.
"The most immediate concern would be it is some poorly and modestly treated sewage or fluid, and you have bacteria in that so that is a health concern," foundation Science Director John Lopez said.
The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality says 1.3 million gallons of stormwater-diluted sewage leaked into the Bogue Chitto River after a levee breach at the Brookhaven wastewater treatment plant. The Bogue Chitto flows into the Pearl River which flows into Lake Pontchartrain near the Rigolets.
Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality agents are testing the water as it makes its way to the lake.
"The fecal coliform and tetroxide are some of the most common, and that's what they look for," Lopez said. "It's not life-threatening but it can make you very sick."
The wastewater is expected to flow down the Pearl River in the next couple of days, and Lopez said for the next several weeks he would not swim in the Rigolets area and he would not eat any fish caught in the area, either.
"This is probably going to be a short-term impact," he said. The volume of water should flush through, the bacteria should die off. This should be a short-term effect that should be in the order of weeks or maybe a month or two," he said.
At this time, there is an advisory for the Bogue Chitto River telling people not to swim in the waterway.