Standing-room-only crowd gathers for Welsh council meeting over water issues

Brown Water ConcernsAmerican Press composite

WELSH — Officials with two local water services insisted Tuesday that water being delivered to Welsh homes and businesses is safe, despite concerns from residents about brown-colored water coming from their faucets.

“We’ve got good water leaving the (water) plant,” Steve Belshe of C + L Aqua Professionals told a standing-room-only crowd. “I guarantee you that water leaving that plant is crystal clear.”

Belshe and Rusty Reeves of the Louisiana Rural Water Association said they have been working with the town for two weeks to address the problem, which began when a mechanical failure occurred at the town’s water tower. The failure caused low water pressure and brown water, Belshe said.

“You had a mechanical failure, and that’s when things went wrong,” he said.

Belshe said the town had a choice to shut off the water or build the water level back up to backwash its filters. For safety reasons, the town chose to build the water up and clean the filters, causing the tank to lose layers of anthracite that helps filter the water.

Town crews began flushing lines after residents began complaining of brown water. The flushing stirred iron and other sediment in the lines, causing discoloration.

“The good part about this is you never lost fire protection, you never lost water and the water is still safe,” Belshe said. “Yes, it was a nuisance and still is, but you have to remember how much iron got in the system.”

Reeves said it is going to take a couple more flushings before the water is completely clear.

He urged residents to be patient and call Town Hall to report any problems.

“We are working on getting it fixed, and we won’t stop till it is fixed,” Reeves said.

Mayor Carolyn Louviere said the brown water concerns everyone, but said efforts are being made to get everyone straightened out.

“We have been working around the clock doing everything we can to get the town back to clean and safe water for everyone, and we are not going to stop till it is done,” she said.

Those comments did little to appease angry residents, many who say they have had brown water for more than a month — some for more than a year.

  1. Welsh working to resolve brown water issue

Joel Lejeune, a resident of South Joseph Street, said he installed a filter system in 2016. The filters used to be changed every six months, but in the past year he has had to change the filters every four months because the filters are “solid brown.”

Amy Standford, who lives at the corner of Russell Avenue and Sarah Street, said her water has been brown for a month. She had a cellphone photo of her brown water taken just before the meeting.

Other residents complained of stained clothes, sinks, toilets and bathtubs.

Welsh serves 1,500-1,700 customers.