Salinity is killing Lake Cataouatche vegetation, guide says

State official admits Davis Pond Freshwater Diversion could be used more efficiently

Ryan Lambert has fished in St. Charles Parish his entire life and he does not like what he sees happening in the Lake Cataouatche area.

The 55-year-old Lambert runs a large charter fishing operation in Buras, and has been fishing Lake Cataouatche since he was a teenager. He said in that time the composition of the lake has changed, but in recent years the changes have been more dramatic.

The ecology of the body of water that was the site of the 2011 Bassmaster Classic has quickly changed from being covered in hydrilla grass to having no coverage at all.

Biologists with Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries have attributed the loss of vegetation to excessive sedimentation that coincided with the addition of several small canals dug along the sides of Lake Cataouatche that allow water to flow in from the Mississippi River.

LDWF maintains the increased sedimentation has blocked out the sunlight and inhibited the growth of vegetation on the lake.

However, a group of St. Charles Parish fisherman led by Lambert have banded together to show their support for another theory behind the grass’ disappearance — saltwater intrusion.

Led by Lambert, the group attended a Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority meeting to ask them to completely open up the Davis Pond Diversion, which diverts freshwater into the lake, instead of running it at around 25 percent of its potential.

“Saltwater intrusion is such a slow, indiscriminate killer — it is like a cancer. It sneaks in, but once it gets its foothold, then it is really rapid,” Lambert said.

This is not the first time the veteran fishing guide has seen the phenomena that has transformed Lake Cataouatche.

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