Similar to the weather, hopes seem to be rising as far as the local water system issues are concerned.
Problems with water pressure resulting from last weekend’s ice storm are still an issue in many areas throughout south Louisiana.
Saturday afternoon, Mayor Nic Hunter and Utilities Director Kevin Heise gave a third update on the water pressure situation in Lake Charles, stating that the city seems to be on track to have decent water pressure by Monday.
“All are assisting in this out-of-the-box, never-before-seen partnership. And again, this is producing results,” said Hunter. “What a difference a day makes. This has been quite a battle – quite an experience. We’re not quite out of the woods yet.”
Heise reassured that the water plants are still operating at a “very high rate,” continuing to produce twice the amount of water they usually do this time of year. Since Tuesday morning, over 1,200 leaks have been turned off on the private side.
“This is roughly 500 times what we normally address in a typical week,” said Heise, “This national event has been as impactful on our area as a Category 4 hurricane.”
He says the calls from citizens have been of much help in getting meters off and increasing pressure in the system. This extremely high rate of water production for the system, Heise warns, means there is potential for discoloration in the water but he assures it is normal and will pass quickly. The boil advisory is still active unless otherwise stated by the city.
Even as things look up as far as returning to a regular water pressure across the majority of the City, employees from many departments, including postmen on their routes, contract employees, and Lafayette City employees are continuing to scour the streets of Lake Charles, turning off water meters and any water to any vacant structures.
Heise warns that structures that have had water turned off due to a leak or have had a serious break will not see the same improvements in water pressure as others in the City. Those residing in multi-story buildings three stories and above can still expect a slower water pressure.
“If you have no pressure at this juncture, you need to contact a plumber. If you are a renter, please contact your landlord. If you believe that this pressure issue is not with your private lines and not on your private property, then please call the City of Lake Charles,” expressed Heise. The City can be reached by calling either 491-1483, 491-1414 or 491-1346. The first two numbers are directly to a live person, while the third will go to a voicemail.
“We are well above freezing at this time, and we’re going to stay well above freezing at this time. There should be no homes continually running their faucet to prevent freezing now. We’re asking residents to continue to be in a water conservation mode so that we can continue to build this pressure incrementally,” said Heise.
Water distributions have taken place the last three days in response to the continued boil advisory and low pressure. At Hunter’s request, National Guardsmen started doing door-to-door welfare checks Saturday at noon throughout the City.
“We can leave no stone unturned when we’re trying to check and make that our brothers and sisters, our citizens, are okay in Lake Charles,” enthused Hunter.
Plans for updates to the water system haven’t been announced, Hunter stating that they are trying to work through this dilemma first.
“Keep in mind that, right now, what we believed occurred was not due to just one thing. It was a convergence of multiple issues happening all at the same time,” he said.
Hunter also announced that waste collection will continue to complete their regular routes, and on Monday will return to normal pickup. People can call 491-2200 if their collection has been missed beginning Monday at 8 a.m.