How Barksdale’s industrial activities affect our bayous

Family of black bellied whistling ducks – photo taken by Nikki Greer, 2021. (Courtesy photo)

By Kate Hasapes, courtesy item

Oh no! There is something in the bayou! No, we’re not talking about alligators. We are talking about fuel and chemical spills. With the large amount of fuel and chemicals that aviators use to carry out their duties, we risk contaminating our air, soil and water.

As the majority of Barksdale’s residents also work at the air base, it’s important to understand how our lives at home and at work can impact local waterways. Mack’s Bayou crosses the Bomber Bayou Golf Course, housing the historic base, and behind the industrial stores on the southwest side of the flight line. In the historic base’s housing, the storm sewers are branded with metal emblems, telling people that anything that goes into these sewers goes straight to the bayou. Over the next few months, on the industrial side of the base, Airmen will begin to see “No Dumping” markings on storm sewers to remind them that these sewers are only for rainwater. Base stores that use or store certain amounts of chemicals are equipped with spill kits and procedures on what to do if a product is spilled. According to federal and state regulations, each chemical has its own reportable amount which, when spilled, triggers a report to regulatory agencies. For example, with petroleum, oils, and lubricants, a single drop in a storm sewer or waterway must be reported to the state within 24 hours! If larger amounts of chemicals are spilled, it can initially cost hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more) in cleanup costs and fines.

Still not sure why it’s important for Airmen to care about our backyard bayou? Ask this family of black-bellied whistling ducks! A pair of nesting whistling ducks decided the 8th Air Force headquarters building on the main base was a perfect place to raise their families. This only became a problem when they thought the “flight line” was the place to take their ducklings. A team of active military, civilian employees and contractors safely escorted this family to the nearest body of water… Mack’s Bayou.

2CE’s environmental office is always available to help educate stores on proper material handling and how to stay in compliance with our multitude of environmental permits. The more aware we are of our environmental impacts, the better we can “leave no trace”, “reduce our footprints” and be “environmentally friendly”. Reduce Reuse and Recycle!

If individuals or groups are interested in learning more about the impacts of bayous or waterway clean-up events, contact the Barksdale Environmental Program Manager (Kate Hasapes, 456-2770, [email protected]) . It takes the whole team to keep Barksdale clean!

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