Lead found in District 5 water samples

By By John Guidroz / American Press

Three of the 20 water samples taken last year from homes in Waterworks District 5 of Wards 3 and 8 in Calcasieu Parish were

found to have elevated levels of lead, prompting officials to notify the nearly 1,400 customers within the district.

Terry Frelot, who oversees operations

within the district, said Thursday that 10 percent of the samples

submitted by customers

had lead levels above 15 parts per billion, one of the drinking

water standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Public water suppliers must test water quality once every three

years, and customers must be notified when higher-than-allowed

lead levels are discovered.

Frelot said the district does not contribute additional lead to the water because when it leaves the groundwater wells, the

pipes that carry it are made mostly from PVC and polyethylene. He said some older homes may have pipes that are made of lead or are copper with lead


“What we need to drive home is that all these tests are coming from the citizens’ plumbing; it’s not coming from the water

district,” he said. “The water is drinkable now.”

Frelot said the 90th percentile of the sample group is checked for lead levels that are above the EPA standards. In the case

of District 5, he said the 18th, 19th and 20th samples collected had lead levels above 15 parts per billion.

Frelot said testing in the district now

must take place twice a year and calls for collecting samples from the

original 20

customers, plus 20 more. Once two six-month tests show lead levels

below 15 parts per billion, the testing schedule will return

to once every three years. The next testing is set for March or


The EPA instituted the Lead and Copper

Rule in 1991, requiring all public water suppliers in the U.S. to test

for lead and

copper. Because of this, Frelot said, some homes built before 1991

may have lead pipes, putting them more at risk of having

lead in their water. He said homeowners are responsible for

changing any pipes that may contain lead.

“We’re beginning the process of

conducting a desktop study to see what is the best way to treat the

water to help the customers

and stop the lead leaching inside their private plumbing,” he

said. “There are treatment agents you can add to water before

distribution that will line the pipe to seal off those pipes that

have lead in them.”

The state in 2011 passed Act 362, prohibiting the sale of any lead products to be used to dispense water for human consumption.

To flush a water system, residents can run their faucet until it is consistently cold for 15-30 seconds before drinking or

cooking with it.

For more information, call the water district at 439-5286 or the parish public works department at 721-3700.

Online: www.epa.gov/lead.