I can't recall too many times when a message from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality was needed to address our behavior during crawfish season in Louisiana. But, obviously, there is a problem that needs to be addressed. It has nothing to do with what we are doing during our crawfish boils. It has everything to do with what happens when we are cleaning up.

The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality is reminding us, begging us, warning us, to not dump our crawfish shells into the storm drains, ditches, coulees, or anyplace else where they could be washed into our rivers, bayous, lakes, or streams.

You're probably wondering, why? Those bodies of water are the exact places that crawfish come from, they molt and leave their empty shells behind as part of their normal growth, so why is that harmful?

The short answer is this. The dead crawfish could contain pathogens that could spread disease or otherwise harm other aquatic life. Think of it like this, the crawfish you bought probably did not come from the storm drain or ditch where you're contemplating dumping the shells. This potential cross-contamination from one location to another does give DEQ reason for concerns.

The decaying crawfish shells can also lead to oxygen depletion which could lead to fish kills. There could also be an overabundance of nitrogen created from the decaying shells. That could lead to larger algae blooms in local waterways.

So, what should we do with our crawfish shells?

The best way is to simply double bag them and put them in your trash. Your regular waste disposal experts will take care of the rest. You can also use your crawfish shells as fertilizer. Just bury the shells deep enough, away from a ditch or wastewater estuary, and cover them with hay or topsoil.

Oh, one more thing, you shouldn't dump boil water down the storm drain either. DEQ says your public wastewater system can handle that so, just pour it down the drain in your home. If you're not on a public water supply, DEQ suggests you dispose of the spicy water in a grassy area away from ditches, streams, and bayous.

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