OIL CITY, LA (KSLA) - Oil City Water Works is still in violation of state and federal drinking water regulations and some of their customers are fed up after receiving another letter notifying them of the issue.
However, town leaders tell KSLA News 12 they are actively working to fix the problem.
Neighbors like Charles Collins explained he is tired of getting letters in the mail, warning customers the water in Oil City violates state and federal regulations. It warns that drinking the water for several years can lead to serious health risks like cancer, kidney or liver problems.
According to Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) spokesman Ashley Lewis, "Oil City Water System is currently in violation of Disinfection By-products rule for exceeding the maximum contaminant level for Total Trihalomethanes (TTHMs) and Haloacetic Acids-five (HAA5) and for inadequate disinfection byproduct precursor (total organic carbon [TOC]) removal in the finished water."
Lewis says the water system has hired new personnel in order to address the problems.
"The water system is targeted for formal enforcement and will be issued an Administrative Order that will require compliance with the Disinfection Byproduct Rule," said Lewis.
Charles Collins says the quality of his Oil City water is so bad, he doesn't cook with it or drink it.
"Just get a handful of mud and throw it in your mouth, that's about what drinking that water is like," said Collins. "It makes you mad, I mean we are paying for a service."
Town leaders say they have an explanation for the violation and they are working to solve the problem.
"We are not making excuses here, we want our customers to be happy," said Melissa Doise, Oil City's town clerk.
Doise explained the violation comes down to this: once the brain eating amoeba was found in Louisiana, they were required to put more chlorine in the water. But by doing that, the levels of chlorine by-product called "THMs", were raised to levels that violated drinking water regulations.
"We are being proactive and forward thinking to try to get that resolved," said Doise.
According to Doise, the town has invested $1 million to begin treating the water with chlorine dioxides to fix the issue.
As far as the water quality complaints, Doise says it's impossible to make every customer satisfied.
"Any water system is going to have complaints about the color of the water, or the taste of the water, or the way it looks," said Doise.
While the water as it is now can be dangerous to drink it for a long time, the EPA says short term exposure likely won't cause health risks.
Town leaders hope to start treating the water with chlorine dioxides by October. They say they've had to send out the violation letters to all 719 customers' homes every quarter since 2013. The letters cost $3,000 a year to send out and it takes 16 man hours to just fold the letters.
Doise says residents should expect to get at least one more letter warning them of the violation, until they're able to fix the issue.
According to DHH, TTHM/HAA5 violations are issued for each sample location and per quarter. TOC violations are issued per quarter.
The Oil City Water System has five violations total for this year.