Louisiana cites city of Natchitoches for low water chlorine levels

Published: Aug. 15, 2017 at 10:29 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 15, 2017 at 11:13 PM CDT
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A violation letter obtained by KSLA sent from the Louisiana Department of Health to the city of Natchitoches four days ago cites the city for having two water-monitoring sites with water chlorine levels falling below the state standard.

Both of those violations occurred this month, according to the letter.

One of those locations sits in the 1500 block of Williams Drive near East Lakeshore Drive.

The other is just around the corner on Charlie Drive.

State leaders told KSLA that the low chlorine levels came down to the pipes' ability to flush water.

"We're only finding these chlorine deficiencies in one line of the system and it's what we call a 'Dead-End Line' and so what that means is there's not a lot of flow in that particular line," said Louisiana Dept. of Health Communications Director Bob Johannessen.

According to him, that 'dead-end line' is on Charlie Drive, the same place where Natchitoches has been cited for low chlorine levels in the past several years.

Louisiana raised the chlorine level standard from 0.2 milligrams per liter to 0.5 back in 2014.

According to the Department of Health's letter, the chlorine level at Williams and East Lakeshore was 0.42 mg/L.

The level on Charlie Drive was 0.45 mg/L.

KSLA asked Natchitoches utility directors if these lower levels pose a health risk to residents.

"No," Natchitoches Assistant Utility Director Matthew Anderson said. "Anything above the old established 0.2 is going to be safe to drink. It's just since they had the amoeba scare three years ago, they raised the lower limit to a 0.5. It's called the Emergency Rule."

Anderson points to the city's antiquating water pipes for dissipating chlorine faster.

"Old pipes," he said. "Old pipes tend to dissipate the chlorine faster than new pipes, your cast-iron pipes."

"This certainly is not unusual for water systems," Johannessen said.

"One thing you have to remember is that the federal regulations, they don't even have a standard for chlorine residual. The state has a standard of point-five so the important thing, I think, for the consumers is to recognize that chlorine is present in the system and it's the presence of chlorine that kills any harmful bacteria."

Anderson told KSLA they've been working with an engineer for more than a year now on a $20,000 project to install a new flush line that will run parallel to the water pipes on Charlie Drive.

Under that new system, Anderson said they will be able to flush the pipes just enough to keep the chlorine levels high without flooding residents' yards.

"We're working on a solutions with an engineer to put in a permanent flush line that will not allow the water to be put into ditches but will actually run it to a nearby river," he said. "It should be off of McClelland Drive which is right near where the test point where the violation was."

According to Anderson, they are still working with the engineer on right-of-way easements before the project can continue.

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