MANDEVILLE, LA (WVUE) - Fountainebleau State Park officials on Tuesday agreed to limit usage of bathroom facilities after the discovery of a leaky pipe. Mandeville officials believe the pipe could be the source of a fecal coliform problem near a new Mandeville city beach.
Kayakers on Mandeville's Bayou Castine noticed the smelly mess immediately.
"That's horrible! It's scary. It makes you wonder why nobody's doing anything," said Melissa Merrill as she loaded her boat.
Mandeville officials sent in a small backhoe Tuesday to do some investigative work. The crane was digging up a sewage pipe that feeds in from nearby Fountainbleu State Park, and they were checking for leaks.
"We took a look at the pipe from the inside and there was a little coming out of it," said Mandeville Mayor Don Villere.
City officials say a meter for the pipe has been broken since October. Since then, fecal coliform levels have spiked on Bayou Ccastine, which feeds directly into Lake Ponchartrain past the new beach, where fecal coliform levels there lately have been 20 times higher than any other point on the lake.
"It was very surprising that no one had smelled it. Not sure how long that was going on," said Villere.
As work crews dug, the pipe appeared to be intact. But when city officials ordered the park to put pressure on the sewage line, a thick black liquid began to emerge for several minutes.
"If you were here when they turn those pumps on, there was major fluid. That's the trouble point," said Villere.
That pipe goes to the Mandeville sewerage plant. It travels underneath Bayou Castine coming from Fountainbleu State Park, which is right on the other side of the bayou. Park officials say so far, the discovery of the leaky pipe has had a limited impact on their operations.
Park officials agreed to limit the use of bathroom facilities for daycampers. They have also agreed to truck out sewage until the leak can be fixed.
"We're going to do some additional monitoring once we get this resolved. If we need to go further at the bayou, we will," said Villere.:
Bayou users were relieved.
"Yes I'm glad somebody's doing something about it, otherwise I would be at City Council," said Merill.
In the meantime, state officials say they are going to investigate where the leak is. They could send divers down this week to fix the problem.
"We're happy to see that the city of Mandeville is taking a proactive approach," said Christie Trail, head of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation.
We will let you know when the line is fixed.