The Vermilion River is one of the Hub City’s natural beauties thanks to the hard work and dedication of men who clean the river so that the community is free to fish and enjoy the river every day.
The Bayou Vermilion District has a special team that is devoted to keeping the Vermilion River clean. Bayou Operations team members say many people may be surprised to know the crazy things they find while cleaning the river.
On average, the team pulls close to 300 tires from the river each year. They’ll also find other items like toys, refrigerators, and even dead cows on any given day.
Crew Chief, Tom Melancon, says the team is very dedicated to the work they do behind the scenes. “The crew we have the same passion to make the waterway more enjoyable for everybody. Lafayette has a lot to offer with this waterway going through it. Getting it clean just benefits the city and the people who live in it and on it.”
The team carries a 55-gallon barrel with them as they pull debris and trash, and they cover 34 miles of river which around 70 miles of the river bank on each side, this is all done only by four men. “On a regular week we probably pick 40 to 50 barrels a week,” Melancon tells KLFY’s Carly Laing
Bayou Operations Specialist, Chris Holland, attends UL Lafayette, where he studies environmental science. He says it’s rewarding to see the community enjoying their hard work “It’s just nice to be able to beautify the landscape and do it in my own hometown’s backyard.”
Melancon and his crew say although the job can be messy at times it’s something they are all very passionate about. “We don’t get patted on the back very often, but we keep doing it because we want to do it.”
Melancon says tires and appliances are some of the large items pulled from the river each day but most of the problems with the water are caused by human activity and waste. His team is working to bring the water levels up, and hopes they’ll be high enough to swim in the river again in the next few years.