Public Lab Research note

Pollution in Bayou St. John

by anthonytriche | April 14, 2021 16:30 14 Apr 16:30 | #26237 | #26237


Students from Brother Martin High School have noticed an ongoing problem in Bayou St. John. The Bayou is used as an area where people enjoy kayaking, paddle boarding, etc. Unfortunately, the Bayou has accumulated an overwhelming amount of trash over the years and is in need of restoration.

Our main concern:

Our main concern is for the life in the bayou and the life surrounding it, this great amount of trash has had a negative effect on the plant and animal life in and around the Bayou. Our hopes are to bring this issue to the attention of the people of New Orleans to aid us in our goal to restore Bayou St. John.

Obstacles and supporting information:

There have been some efforts to lessen the amount of trash present in the bayou. The Lake Ponchartrain Basin Foundation sponsors an annual "beach sweep" where volunteers pick up trash surrounding the Lake, but the improved drainage of Lake Ponchartrain into the Bayou has caused a funnel for trash.

Who is engaged in this concern?

The Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, as well as the Wildlife agency (LDWF) are working on restoring the bayou. Their restoration plan includes opening the gate and re-excavating the road to make a channel to restore the flow of oxygen, nutrients, plants, and animals from Lake Pontchartrain.

What are the initial questions?

How does trash get into Bayou St. John?

What effects does the trash have on plant life?

Does the trash affect the water quality? If so, how?

How does trash affect animal life?

Has the trash made the bayou dangerous for people to recreate around?

What kind of trash is most abundant in the bayou?


Love seeing this project! I've been participating in cleanups along Bayou St John since I was a little girl, but I never realized that the bayou was connected to the lake! I learned a lot here:

What kinds of surveys will your team do to determine the types of trash present and, once you do, how will you investigate the source of the trash? The bayou has become a major outdoor recreation place so I'm wondering if people spending time outdoors along they bayou are also dumping trash. I can't even remember if there are trashcans anywhere along the bayou for people to put their trash in.

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We have obtained one trawl and are in the process of building three more. We built three BabyLeg trawls in all. One of our group members, @ brycestrada, took a trip to Bayou St. John to collect our samples. One trawl was lost in the process of collecting samples because the knot of the leash came undone. To solve this problem we put zip ties on the other two trawls to hold the ropes together. After the loss of our first trawl, another BabyLegs had to be made the day of data collection. It all ended alright, we got our samples involving: organics, bag wrappers, and other miscellaneous pieces of plastic. Two more trawls were made, but not used just so we can experience constructing BabyLegs. In conclusion, we did a good job and it was a very fun experience. Below is a link to the instructions we used to build our BabyLeg trawls if you are interested. (

Screenshot_2021-05-19_10.55.24_AM_(3).png Area where data was collected.

Screenshot_2021-05-19_11.00.40_AM_(2).png Distance of Bayou St. John through New Orleans.

IMG_7105.JPEG First Collection Attempt @brycestrada

IMG_7102.JPEG Second Collection Attempt

IMG_0238.jpg Unused BabyLegs trawl

IMG_0236.jpg Trash Collected

IMG_7110.JPEG Third Collection Attempt with new trawl after the loss of the first one.

IMG_0237.jpg Second unused trawl bulit by @andrewdelean

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