Oil City to change water treatment process to protect residents

Oil City to change water treatment process to protect residents

OIL CITY, LA (KSLA) - The Town of Oil City says officials are going all out to ensure the safety of their town's drinking water.

A few weeks ago, Oil City Water Works customers received a letter informing them that consumption of their water could put them at risk for cancer over time, but city officials say there's no reason to panic.

"The state basically sends us a format letter and says here you are outside of what your THMs are supposed to be, so you have to publish this letter," town clerk Melissa Doise said.

THMs are chemicals called disinfection byproducts that now exist in the town's water as a result of treating water with more chlorine.

"We're not the only municipality that is getting this. This is statewide," Doise said.

When brain-eating amoeba turned up in Louisiana, it caused quite a scare, causing the state to increase the amount of chlorine used to clean water.

"If you increase the amount of chlorine you put in your water, naturally you're going to increase the amount of THMs that are produced," Doise said.

Officials say that's where the problem comes into play. Since the increase, the town has consistently been in violation of contaminant levels, because the amount of chlorine used increased. The standards for chemical byproducts, however, didn't change and haven't in more than ten years.

"It's impossible to treat out the THMs to the levels that they were when our residuals were lower," Doise added.

Instead of fighting against it, they're investing to solve the problem. Nearly $200,000 in state grants is going toward the startup of chlorine dioxide treatments. The new treatment process is expected to bring THM levels down.

"It's an incredible amount of money. We are just at a point where we feel like it's what our customers deserve," Doise said.

She added that it's been in the works for about five months, and is almost ready for action.

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