News Feature | April 4, 2014

Brain-Eating Amoeba Rule: 73 Water Systems Still Not In Compliance

By Sara Jerome
@sarmje

petrireg

Almost all Louisiana communities are complying with a state water treatment mandate designed to ward off the brain-eating amoeba. 

"Around 95 percent of the state's drinking water systems have complied with an emergency rule issued last year requiring increased disinfectant levels in drinking water and increased monitoring of water quality," the state's Department of Health and Hospitals recently announced.

The emergency rule, released in November, "required that water systems in the state maintain a higher residual disinfectant level and increase their number of sampling sites by 25 percent. Most drinking water systems in Louisiana were required to meet this new higher standard by February 1, 2014," the department said. 

But not every water system is following the rules. 

It appears that "73 systems out of the state's 1,369 public drinking water systems are not in compliance with the emergency rule," the Times Picayune reported, citing the department. The government "issued notice of violation letters to the 73 systems."

For instance, two systems in Lafayette Parish have flouted the state regulation. Lafayette Utilities System (LUS) was one of the offenders, according to the Daily Advertiser. But the utility insists its water is safe. 

“LUS water is absolutely safe. No question about it,” LUS Director Terry Huval told the newspaper. 

"ILUS was 4 percent out of compliance and Victoria Village Mobile Home Estates was 100 percent out of compliance with the new rule as of Feb. 1," the report said, citing the government. 

When the department called out LUS, it began adding more chlorine.

"In the meantime, DHH indicated LUS could continue to use the natural chloramine in the water instead of over-treating the water with chlorine," the report said, citing Huval.

The backdrop: "The rule was enacted after the brain-eating amoeba, Naegleria fowleri, was found in water systems in DeSoto and St. Bernard parishes that use surface water. Two people died in 2011 after allegedly coming into contact with the amoeba in Louisiana," the Advertiser explained. 

For more on government oversight, check out Water Online's Regulations and Legislation Solution Center

Image credit: "NR/ML petri dish," © 2011 toyed, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en

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