State says Ponchatoula tap water is safe; some still worry

State says Ponchatoula tap water is safe; some still worry

PONCHATOULA, LA (WVUE) - Water coming out of faucets in Ponchatoula looked normal again, but Bub Tucker is not feeling relieved.

"No, ma'am, I don't. We won't be relieved until the proper steps are taken at each well site," said Tucker.

Earlier this week the problem of brown water returned. It has been a sporadic issue since March.

"It was just early one morning and in the day it disappeared like if you flush the toilet, you look in there it was brown," remarked Ponchatoula resident Evelyn Kemp.

Mayor Robert Zabbia said the brown water started when a major water well and storage facility was taken offline in March for an overhaul.  He said one of the other two wells and storage facilities in the town was made the lead facility.

"And what it did, it changed the direction of the water and it stirred up some sediment that we had in the lines, thus causing brown water," said Zabbia.

He said immediate action was taken as the city called in consultants and an analysis was done.

"As a result of all of that we found that we have a trace of manganese in the water at the Veterans well, so we suggested that that well be treated with a phosphate of sequestering agent to sequester the manganese. We did that immediately upon the recommendation and obtaining proper permits from DHH, so we are injecting as per the consultant," he said.

"This is manganese, and I'd bet my house against yours on it," said Tucker, as he held a beverage-size jar with a dark brown substance.

He lives in Ponchatoula and has rental properties in the city, as well. He said what came out of the pipes is more than a trace of manganese, and he plans to have the substance tested.

"I can bet 99 to 1 that it contains manganese."

The state said Wednesday the water in Ponchatoula is safe to drink. Zabbia believes it was safe even when discolored.

Tucker is doubtful and has concerns about the health of residents who may have consumed the brown water.

"So I have tenants who are complaining about it as well, and what are we supposed to do about it?" Tucker said. "You see it's separating, an oily like substance in there."

Manganese is not the only substance to show up in the water, of late.

"About three weeks ago we found that we do have some corrosiveness in the water, and its suggested that we add some phosphate to all three well sites, we already had permits for the well site that we were injecting the sequestering agent and so we have filed applications to DHH for it, to be to put the phosphates on the other two well," said Zabbia.

He said then on Monday there were necessary repairs made to a busted water line which caused a flushing of the system.

"Thus causing a stir up in the mains and we had widespread through the city, brown water, so as a result of that we flushed the lines heavily Monday night," said the mayor.

There was also a power loss at one of the water wells, prompting a boil water advisory.

"Last night at my home things were very clear," said the mayor.

Shortly after lunch time, the advisory was rescinded and the all clear was given in terms of consuming the water.  Zabbia said he was always confident the water was safe.

He said until all of the work on the water storage facility near City Hall is complete, from time to time there could be more brown water episodes.

"When we get our new water tower, I mean our refurbished water tower and well back online, we will have an aggressive flushing program and that's going to be within, probably by the first of October we'll be doing that," said the mayor.

'We've asked the mayor to do his part and he has done nothing as far as we're concerned," said Tucker.

The mayor said he has aggressively responded to each problem that has cropped up, and added that some homes have old metal pipes and water heaters that may lead to discolored water.

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