Stirring the waters in Sulphur: Water quality issues lead to controversy

Rita LeBleu

Local news coverage and social media posts, including those on the Erin Brockovich Facebook site, are stirring the waters of Sulphur.

The most recent exchange happened after a city of Sulphur special council meeting May 27 to approve a resolution that would allow immediate work on a water main that serves the area hospital, high school, medical offices, commercial businesses and residential properties.

Council minutes read: “The City could not wait for the typical timeframe of public bid law, which is a two-month process.”

Daniel Bulloch, who was being interviewed by a local news station after the meeting was adjourned, called Mayor Mike Danahay an expletive. In a phone conversation with the American Press, Bulloch said he reacted in that manner after Danahay “shot him the bird.”

Danahay denied he did so.

“I would not and I did not,” the mayor told the American Press. “In the meeting, we had an exchange of questions. After the meeting, we were confronted by some residents who do not live here who wanted to talk about the water situation.”

Bulloch previously brought samples of water to the April 12 City Council meeting. Danahay describes Bulloch’s plumbing as unconventional. Bulloch told the American Press his hot and cold lines pass through his hot water heater.

According to Bulloch, a few residents will be informally

at The of the city’s parks, at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 6, to talk about the upcoming Walk for Water event on June 14 to open a dialogue with other residents who might be having the same issues and to make bottled water available for residents who might have a hard time getting it.

Sulphur resident Terry Anderson said she contacted Brockovich about the Sulphur water situation. Anderson had her water tested May 17, 2021.

“The water was tested from my kitchen sink as the instructions outlined,” Anderson said. “I didn’t run my sink water from 9 p.m. until the following morning.”

She said she chose an outside lab for the test because she did not trust a local or surrounding area lab, she wrote in an email to the American Press. The cost was $229.

The water scored in the 10th percentile of tap scores for city water.

The lead exceeded the federal goal of 0 parts per million at .0076 ppm.

Simple Lab’s recommendation of nickel is .012 ppm or less. Anderson’s test showed .056 ppm. Iron Simple Lab’s recommendation of iron is 0.3 ppm. Anderson’s sample tested at 2.37 ppm.

“The city has never denied that we have an issue,” Danahay said, “and we’re addressing that issue. We started the process before the storms and the storms delayed work.”

The water is tested every month by the Louisiana Department of Health at 44 stations across the city, according to Danahay.

“They come in. They take the samples. They give us the results and make it public record. There are no biologicals. The water is safe for consumption. There is a higher iron content than we want and there is discoloration, but the water is usable, potable.”

Residents in the northern and western parts of the city have water issues. The rest of the city’s residents do not, Danahay said.

Not all the residents in the northern and western parts of the city are having water issues. In some cases, the problem could be with the distribution system, the mayor said. There is a plan in place that should address these water issues. It calls for 200 days for completion.

“The way it’s going to happen is two filter tanks at a time. We can’t take them (vessels) all out at a single time.”

City Councilman Mike Koonce said that the negative comments are only coming from a few residents who are disgruntled for reasons that don’t have anything to do with water quality.

“The administration is doing everything it can,” Koonce said. “We’re not sitting on our hands. Do I wish it could be quicker? Yes.”

Randy Hebert is a Sulphur resident who attends most city council meetings and administers the social media site, Sulphur-Carlyss Information Station.

“The government has accountability standards that require a slower pace than what the public expects,” he said. “They can’t throw money at a problem.”

According to a plan presented by Meyers & Associates, the city’s engineering consultant firm, the first new filter tanks will be shipped Sept. 13. Installation is scheduled for Sept. 30. Improvements are being phased in. The third phase is scheduled to be completed by July 2022.

””

The morning after the April 12 Sulphur City Council meeting, a city worker flushed the water system at a point near Daniel Bulloch’s home. The jar at far left shows water quality after the initial flushing. The jar to the far right shows particles that have settled at the bottom of the jar after 24 hours.

Special to the American Press

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