LAWCO pledges to address Mansura water quality

Company may stop buying water from Cottonport

There may be a shake-up among the parish’s water systems, all because of some long word that LAWCO officials said isn’t nearly as dangerous as it sounds.

The word is “trihalomethanes,” and it made its way into the Mansura vocabulary recently when LAWCO was issued a “notice of violation” because the water it was selling its customers in Mansura had too much of them.

LAWCO President Billy Edrington told the Town Council Nov. 13 that the situation “is not an emergency” and posed no immediate health hazards.

“The water is safe to drink,” Edrington emphasized, noting that it is not as serious as a “boil advisory” condition.

Edrington said trihalomethanes -- called TTHMs -- are formed when organic and inorganic materials combine with water disinfectants, such as chlorine. These are called “disinfectant byproducts (DBPs), which include TTHMs. Edrington noted that some people who drink water with high levels of these byproducts over an extended period of many years may have problems with liver, kidney or central nervous system and may have an increased risk of cancer. That would take about 20 years of constant exposure, he said. “We want the people to feel that their water is safe -- and it is,” he said.

BUYS FROM COTTONPORT

Edrington was quick to point out that LAWCO buys its water from Cottonport, and the issue lies there. He said Avoyelles Water Commission and Ward 3 Water do not have a TTHM problem.

He said the state requires water to have less than 80 parts per billion (ppb) of TTHMs. The water is tested quarterly and then rated on a rolling average. The TTHM rate spiked to 105 in a past test, which put it over 80 for this reporting period.

Edrington said the company did an investigatory sample in June and the rate was 84. It did more tests in September and October which showed the TTHM level below 80. He said those tests can’t be used to reduce the rolling average. An official test sample will be taken this month.

“There is a chance that we will be issued another notice of violation” because the average level of the quarterly tests would still be above 80, he said.

Edrington said LAWCO is taking steps to address the issue.

“We have installed equipment on our ground storage reservoir to remove these byproducts and are currently having our engineers design additional equipment that will reduce a higher percentage of DDBPs, but it will take time to get this equipment installed and in service.”

He said the problem is worse on the end of the water system with fewer customers because “it has old water.” The longer water sits, the more likely it is to react with the chlorine, he noted.

At one point in the discussion on the issue, it was asked if LAWCO could solve its TTHM problem by buying its water from Avoyelles Water Commission, which already sells to Marksville, Moreauville and the Ward 3 Water System.

Edrington said LAWCO could do that, but noted that Avoyelles Water charges more than Cottonport.

“We would be able to pass that cost on to the customers,” he said, which would add $3-4 to a monthly water bill.

One citizen in the audience pointed out that bottled water costs more than $3-4 a month “and most of us in Mansura are drinking bottled water because we don’t trust the town’s water.”

Edrington said it is possible that the prospect of landing 700 more customers might encourage a new water provider to reduce its rates to all customers.

It is also possible, he noted, that Cottonport might be willing to do more on its end to address the problem to avoid losing its largest customer.

The council instructed Edrington to negotiate with another water provider and report back,preferably in December.

Edrington said he hoped to get all the necessary information by the December meeting, but that it might take until January.

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