Environmentalist faces potential fines for dumping raw sewage into waterway

IBERVILLE PARISH – A man who spent his career fighting to protect the environment was quoted by the Louisiana Department of Health after inspectors found he dumped raw sewage in waterways near his home.

The dumping could have lasted almost two decades. Records show that a permit for a sewer on the property was applied for in 2004, but no one followed suit.

Last week, state inspectors from the Louisiana Department of Health visited Dean Wilson’s home in Bayou Sorrel. Wilson is the Executive Director of the Atchafalaya Basin Keeper. It is an organization dedicated to protecting the health of the basin and its waterways for generations to come.

One of Wilson’s workers, Monica Fisher, spoke to the investigative unit Monday and said the complaint to the state came from Wilson’s ex. Fisher did not provide any evidence to back up the claims she made.

“You have an unreliable source trying to destroy our director,” said Monica Fisher of the Atchafalaya Basin Keeper. “You are in the middle of a custody battle due to be discussed in early February.”

According to state inspection reports by the WBRZ Investigative Unit, “PVC pipes connected to the house lead to a drain into the adjacent waterway. Raw sewage (toilet paper / trash) flowing along the end line and on the banks / flat side of the waterway being observed. Could not find sewer system at time of inspection. “

Dean admitted by phone to WBRZ that he had no sewer in his home and promised to comply with the regulations. Records show that Wilson applied for a sewer permit at this Bayou Sorrel site in 2004, but nothing was done to complete the permit and verify its installation.

Fisher refused to answer questions about whether raw sewage was good for the basin. She said “thank you” before walking away from the microphone and camera.

Mitch Ourso, president of the Iberville community, said putting raw sewage into waterways was not only illegal but also a shock given Wilson’s background.

“It’s really ironic that this gentleman is a big environmentalist and so on and ‘saving the trees’ and all that … Really surprising to me,” Ourso said.

Ourso said his inspectors showed up at the property on Monday and also found raw sewage from the house.

“It is confirmed that he has a raw sewer that flows into a jet of water from his home,” said Ourso. “He should know better.”

The state said Wilson had until February 5, 2021 to abide by regulations or face hefty fines and penalties. Ourso said the community would follow up.

“If he doesn’t follow the rules, the community will start doing what we have to do. And he has the right to due process,” Ourso said.

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