Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper is a project of the Louisiana Environmental Action Network(LEAN).
The Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN) is a community based not for profit organization that has been focused on resolving the unique environmental struggles present in Louisiana for roughly 30 years. Through education, empowerment ,advocacy and support, LEAN provides the necessary tools and services for individuals and communities facing environmental problems that threaten their health, safety and quality of life.
In 1986 a group of concerned citizens gathered in Baton Rouge to share stories and offer support for the environmental struggles their communities were facing. Mothers, fathers, plant workers, community members, doctors, lawyers, and everyday citizens from around the state came together because they all were facing severe environmental challenges and no one was adequately addressing their concerns. Within this solidarity and combined purpose the Louisiana Environmental Action Network was formed. From the original founders to the almost 30 years of work, LEAN brings the experience and expertise of countless community members and professionals together to build a powerful resource for anyone working to resolve the environmental challenges that Louisiana faces. Many of these community members and environmental experts are represented on LEAN’s board of directors. LEAN has been on the forefront of the environmental movement in Louisiana for decades, building and supporting countless individuals and organizations to create a more aware, engaged and empowered public.
Clearly, the Mississippi River is at the heart of Louisiana, of our communities, our culture, our economy and, too often, environmental conflict. The Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper(LMRK) is a project of the Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN) focused on improving the water quality of the lower Mississippi River as it flows through Louisiana and into the Gulf of Mexico. LEAN’s Riverkeeper program was created in the early 1990s to educate and empower citizens to improve the water quality of the Mississippi River in Louisiana.
In 2001, LEAN’s Riverkeeper program became an official member of the international Waterkeeper Alliance and has been licensed as the Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper (LMRK) for the past 16 years. During this time, the Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper has been focused on monitoring the lower Mississippi River Basin throughout Louisiana, documenting incidents of pollution and working to improve the water quality of the Mississippi River Basin. Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper utilizes satellite surveillance, on-the-water and aerial patrols to search for pollution entering the Mississippi River. Once identified, LMRK conducts research and technical analysis to assess and quantify documented pollution. Empowered by these efforts, LMRK can effectively communicate with local community members, potential polluters and regulatory agencies to eliminate or reduce the impacts of this pollution. This process is both informed by and a source of information for everyday citizens and communities along the river. Residents and river users are often a valuable source for concerns addressed by LMRK. LMRK is focused on providing resources to educate and empower and find solutions for these community members to be river stewards themselves.
HOW DOES LMRK OPERATE?
Community Driven, Action Oriented
LEAN’s work has always been focused on assisting communities with their environmental challenges. LEAN has built a foundation from which LMRK can take action from a truly community informed perspective. LEAN’s expertise and experience in community engagement and empowerment are the foundation on which LMRK is able to effectively and efficiently apply actions that make real improvement to the health of the Mississippi River and the communities who depend on it.
This work is achieved through applying LMRK’s full capacity both directly and in collaboration with other community stakeholders, organizations and regulatory agencies. The Mississippi River in Louisiana faces many threats from Industrial and Municipal pollution sources. To effectively face this challenge, LMRK ,must thoughtfully identify the most important concerns on which to focus our limited time and resources. LMRK labels these concerns as “target issues.” Target issues are identified based on three criteria:
- Community concerns received by LEAN from river communities
- Contamination instances documented during regular monitoring operations
- Assessment of Toxic Release Inventory(TRI) data and other available sources(permits, etc.)
Once identified as a target issue, LMRK systematically addresses these pollution concerns by applying the following 6 Action Steps:
LMRK’s regular aerial, satellite and on the ground/water monitoring helps identify new and on-going pollution instances in the Lower Mississippi River.
Through digital photography, video, data collection and report building, LMRK builds comprehensive and accurate evidence of pollution instances
Permit review, Discharge Monitoring Report analysis and chemical sampling are all utilized to accurately quantify pollution entering the Mississippi River
Communicate / Educate
By utilizing a variety of multi-media skills, LMRK builds appropriate and effective educational/outreach tools to communicate pollution concerns to a variety of stakeholders including: river community residents, industrial and municipal entities, local elected officials, regulatory agencies and the public as a whole
LMRK works to address pollution concerns through direct discussion and negotiation with potential responsible parties on a case by case basis. Honest, direct and respectful communication is always the first step to addressing a problem
Unfortunately, Louisiana has a history of under enforcing environmental regulations. When necessary, LMRK utilizes citizen enforcement action to improve the water quality of the Mississippi River
LMRK’s work is focused on furthering three primary objectives:
- Prevent and Reduce Pollution entering the Mississippi River
- Protect the health of communities who depend on the Mississippi River and its water for drinking, bathing, cooking, fishing and recreating.
- Promote and encourage recreation, environmental education and stewardship on the Lower Mississippi River
Over the years, LMRK has made huge strides in improving the health of the Mississippi River and the quality of life for those who live along it’s banks. We could never have done this without you.
Please support LMRK through AVEDA’s annual Earth Month or through direct support and donations. We hope the above information helps to further explain LMRK’s efforts to create a healthier Mississippi River for current users and future generations. We can not thank you enough for your committed support and look forward to our continued success in the future.