State will require certain parish water systems to increase chlo - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

State will require certain parish water systems to increase chlorine levels

Updated:

NEW ORLEANS - To control water-borne parasites like the "brain eating" amoeba, the state will be requiring all parishes that use a chlorine- and ammonia-based disinfectant to increase chlorine levels in their water systems.

The announcement comes a day after the amoeba that was linked to the death of a 4 year-old this summer in St. Bernard Parish was found in DeSoto Parish about 300 miles away.

Sen. Jean-Paul Morrell, D- New Orleans, hopes this change will be permanent. Until now, just a trace of chlorine is all that has been required of parish water systems that disinfect by chloramination.

"Just the term 'trace' is subjective," said Morrell. "It's not a set, benchmark number, and that needs to be resolved."

Though the state says .4 mg/L of residual levels of chlorine kills amoeba, that level was never required. That meant as little as .06 or .03 mg/L was acceptable, which is the chlorine residual levels found at the Ycloskey Fire Station in February and March of 2012.

Data obtained from St. Bernard Parish shows that the chlorine level appeared to drop down to .01 at the intersection of LA 36 and LA 300 in January of 2012, but the number was crossed out, and a note was written at the bottom of the page indicating that monitoring site was changed to another location from then on.

Environmental factors, infrastructure damage and population changes since Katrina have all been cited as possible reasons why the St. Bernard water system regularly has low levels of chlorine in certain areas such as Royal street in Arabi.

However, Morrell says, since the state found the amoeba in five locations in a DeSoto Parish water system Wednesday, it's time to take a broader look at all water systems.

"Once you realize that it can be in Southeast Louisiana and be in Northwest Louisiana, well, you've kind of got to look at everywhere in-between, which is pretty much the rest of the state," he said.

Water quality reports show that Jefferson and Orleans parishes had chlorine levels in at least one location drop below .4 - the level known to kill the amoeba - at some point in 2012.

So, Morrell says raising the required chlorine level across the state should put everyone at ease about their water.

"One of the most basic functions as to why government exists is to deliver basic services that allow people to live," he said. "The delivery of water to your home is the most basic governmental function other than police and fire. And, I mean, for people to question whether or not government is able to do that appropriately is very, very, very concerning."

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