Mansfield residents sound off over water quality concerns

Mansfield residents sound off over water quality concerns
Source: Christian Piekos

MANSFIELD, LA (KSLA) - It's a problem well-known throughout the city of Mansfield: sub-par water quality.

This February, the city sent its residents a letter notifying them of a water violation — and this isn't the first time, either.

"We're not getting what we pay for with Mansfield's water," said Michael McDonald, a Mansfield resident. "For us to get them once a month, that tells you something is going wrong."

The problem is stemmed from a chemical byproduct created when disinfectants combine with naturally occurring organic and inorganic material. This combination creates trihalomethane, which can potentially cause health complications if exposed to it in large quantities over the course of 20 years.

When a municipality exceeds the acceptable trihalomethane level in its water system, a statement notifying residents of the potential health risk is required by both the EPA and the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.

"If you read the whole letter, it says it's not an emergency," said Jim Ruffin, public works director for Mansfield. "When anybody gets something like this they're going to be concerned, they should be and we're concerned."

Long-term exposure to large amounts of trihalomethanes can potentially spur problems with the liver, kidneys, central nervous system and an increased risk of getting cancer. But, despite the possible health risks, Ruffin said Mansfield's water had made great strides over time.

"I'm telling you folks, the water now is better than it's ever been because of the regulations," said Ruffin. "We really have to toe the line in this and we take a lot of pride in doing that."

Ruffin said the city has taken active steps to reduce the trihalomethane levels in the city's water to the standard considered safe by officials.

"With the numbers we've gotten so far, we hope to be back in compliance with the running average for the first quarter of 2018," Ruffin said. "Those samples will be taken next month in March."

KSLA plans to return to Mansfield next month to review those samples to see if trihalomethane levels have returned to a safe level.

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