Last Modified: Monday, March 24, 2014 12:58 PM
I live just outside the southern city limits of Sulphur and am connected to the Carlyss water system. Every year we receive an annual report of water testing results, and frequently we receive notices during the year letting us know that certain tests have not been run.
The latest notification was for the period Oct. 1-31, 2013. Residual chlorine was not monitored because there were no samples collected to run this test.
Prior to that, in Oct. 1-31, 2009, the coliform bacteria level was over the acceptable limit. April 1-June 30, 2009, the waterworks district did not monitor for trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids and can therefore offer no determination on the quality of the drinking water. The list goes on.
Is this a common problem elsewhere in the parish? Is the problem with equipment that does not consistently catch the samples? Or is this a problem with employees? Who do the water districts answer to?
Alice Webb, director of Ward 4 Waterworks District 9, said the quality of the water has never really been in doubt. The violations that led to the notices, she said, resulted from administrative oversight and operator error.
The district does monitor chlorine residual levels, Webb said. But the state required district officials to send customers a notice because an operator had failed to list a chlorine residual amount on a form, she said.
The state required the notices on the trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids — byproducts of the disinfection process — because the district was only using two samples to monitor for the compounds when, because of the system’s recent growth, it should have been using four, Webb said.
The coliform bacteria notice, she said, resulted because an operator inadvertently contaminated a sample.
Public water systems in Louisiana are regulated by the state Department of Health and Hospitals, and Webb said that “they’re really strict.”
The Informer checked the DHH’s online Drinking Water Watch database — https://sdw.oph.dhh.la.gov/DWW — and found similar records of violations for other parish waterworks districts.
The water districts, like other special service districts, are overseen by boards whose members are appointed by the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury.
The District 9 board meets at 5:30 p.m. on the second Monday of the month at 4015 Sherry St. For more information, call the
district office at 583-2777.
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The Informer answers questions from readers each Sunday, Monday and Wednesday. It is researched and written by Andrew Perzo, an American Press staff writer. To ask a question, call 494-4098 and leave voice mail, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.