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New Orleans Faucet Water Beats Odds, Meets All Regulatory Requirements

Bending machineThe Crescent City draws its water from the Mississippi — a river lined with petrochemical plants and storage tanks and stuffed with waste from northern neighbors. Residents fear about spills within the river, and wonder if oil lapping on the coast has affected their faucet water. In a weekend final November, metropolis dwellers endured a boiled-water advisory after a plant problem. And life on some blocks has been disrupted by water predominant breaks in recent times.

Native, state and federal authorities, nonetheless, say the town’s faucet water meets and, under some standards, exceeds their standards because of controls on discharges in the river, fixed water sampling and cleansing at plants. Last week, the purification superintendent on the Sewerage & Water Board of latest Orleans rated the quality of the town’s faucet water as “glorious.”

The 106-yr-previous Carrollton plant, outfitted with pumps, pipes and generators to tug water from the river, makes use of standard purification processes, filters the water and provides 135 million gallons each day to almost 300,000 people over a whole lot of square miles. The ability’s tile-roofed buildings make use of 200 staff, and comprise a water-high quality laboratory.

Vincent Fouchi, Superintendent of Water Purification at the S&WB, said “we’ve the identical plants, the same chemicals and procedures as before Katrina.”

Across the river, the Algiers plant provides the West Bank with 10 million gallons of drinking water each day.

“We monitor the 2 plants every day and month-to-month to comply with U.S. Environmental Protection Company and state Dept. of Well being & Hospitals water-high quality tips,” Fouchi said. “We’re in compliance with present regulatory levels. The state’s Dept. of Environmental High quality has performed a superb job of controlling the circulate of industrial waste within the river by strict allowing of plant emissions.” The U.S. Coast Guard has helped enforce these permits.

Fouchi said, in his opinion, “the S&WB offers glorious-high quality, potable water to our customers.”
He continued, saying “DHH tests for agricultural runoff and pesticides within the river.” And while the BP spill was too far away to harm the town’s water provide, “we stay vigilant for upriver oil spills between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.” The DEQ has an Early Warning Organic Compound Detection System or EWOCDS for spills. The S&WB lab analyzes river water each day and reports any contaminants to the DEQ.

Fouchi mentioned river pumping operations are halted “once we select to cease taking water from the river.” Choices to stop drawing are based mostly on varieties and concentrations of contaminants. “We have now a couple of river pumping station and generally a spill might affect one, but not two stations,” he stated.

In a protracted-in the past study, released in 2003, the Natural Sources Protection Council said the city’s water high quality was good, but source safety was poor.

Fouchi said “for source-water protection, EWOCDS is our best software. The Mississippi River is leveed between Baton Rouge and the mouth of the river, so the only sources of doable contamination alongside this stretch are permitted industrial discharges and marine traffic accidents.” He famous that other large cities on the Mississippi like St. Louis draw their water from the river, although Baton Rouge will get its supply from deep wells.

New Orleans, in the meantime, is strapped for cash for upgrading the water system. “Our infrastructure wants are still vital, and greatly outreach our current, capital-enchancment funding ranges,” Fouchi mentioned. “We’re doing our greatest to restore infrastructure and gear, as wanted, inside our current, budgetary constraints.”

The U.S. Military Corps of Engineers is putting in a brand new generator at the Carrollton plant in an estimated $forty eight million project. Nancy Allen, Military Corps spokeswoman, stated a contractor is building a structure to house the generator, which must be in place this September.

On the Algiers plant, “we switched from elemental chlorine to sodium hypochlorite about two years in the past,” Fouchi stated. Sodium hypochlorite is petroleum products terminals 10 a chemical compound used to disinfect water. “We’re presently constructing a sodium hypochlorite storage and feed facility at Carrollton, the place sodium hypochlorite will exchange elemental chlorine as our disinfectant.” These change are intended to get rid of dangers from chlorine fuel releases.

Clyde Carlson, New Orleans-primarily based, district engineer in the Office of Public Well being of the La. Dept of petroleum products terminals 10 Health and Hospitals, said “the town is in compliance with protected-drinking water laws. Prospects can look on the S&WB’s webpage and skim its shopper confidence report released last summer season, along with updates on that report.” When it comes to water quality, the city’s purification plants meet all state and federal, together with EPA, requirements.

Underneath EPA requirements, a shopper confidence report must be mailed to clients as soon as a yr. The S&WB plans to send out its next report this summer time.

New Orleans drinking water escaped any affects from the Gulf spill. “We’re a hundred miles upstream from the mouth of the Mississippi River, and the BP spill occurred 50 miles out within the Gulf and on no account impacted water quality in New Orleans,” Carlson mentioned. “We’re vigilant about any spills which may occur on the river upstream from us, however.” A community of screens, involving the DEQ, DHH’s Office of Public Health and the U.S. Coast Guard, alerts stakeholders and water authorities about any detected spills in the river.

The last, huge river spill in New Orleans occurred in July 2008 and left residents involved about faucet water. “Within the 2008 incident, in which a barge overrun by a tanker spilled oil within the river, we noticed a fast response from the Coast Guard, DEQ, EPA and Louisiana’s Workplace of the Oil Spill Coordinator,” Carlson stated. “The S&WB Algiers’ plant intently monitored or closed down water intakes from the river in an applicable response.” A water advisory was issued for Algiers, however.

As for leaky water mains and pipes in New Orleans, Carlson mentioned “mains which have exceeded their design life are a challenge for aging infrastructure throughout the country. Nonetheless, with enough optimistic pressure from electrical and steam energy within the distribution system, contaminants are unlikely to get into faucet water from damaged mains.”

Final November’s boil-water advisory in New Orleans, Carlson stated, “was based mostly on an abundance of warning after a brief power outage at the Carrollton plant affected supply of water to the distribution system, but didn’t alter therapy.”

Carlson continued, saying that joint, water-high quality testing is carried out by S&WB and the DHH. “Every day, monthly, and yearly studies are sent to us at the Safe Drinking Water Program of the Office of Public Health.” Bacteriological sampling is carried out month-to-month on the East and West Financial institution distribution programs, and all EPA protocols for monitoring pollutants are adopted. “Sampling is routinely completed underneath lead and copper rules and disinfection byproduct rules,” he said. The S&WB water lab is state-certified every three years.

Carlson stated “the Carrollton power plant was flooded by Katrina, however in a staged restoration, potable faucet water in areas closest to the plant was again on in about three weeks.” Other city neighborhoods were gradually introduced back. “Nevertheless, it took almost a year for the Lower Ninth Ward to have potable, tap water due to water high quality and pressure issues,” he said.

Fouchi at S&WB said the Carrollton plant was shut down for several days after Katrina, but it was several months before normal operations resumed because it arduous to procure water-remedy chemicals. Meanwhile, the Algiers plant was not flooded by Katrina.

As for different water sources, Carlson stated Baton Rouge depends on wells because of excessive-quality floor water in that space. New Orleans has some wells that aren’t for drinking. Audubon Park, for instance, contains a properly for irrigation functions. Ground water in the brand new Orleans space will be extremely colored or highly saline, and would require different therapy than river water, Carlson said. “And there are some situations throughout the nation where floor water withdrawals have precipitated subsidence” or floor sinking, he noted.

Jesse Means, geologist with the Drinking Water Safety Program at the La. Dept of Environmental Quality, said “our program focuses on public consciousness, and we did surveys across the state from 2000 to 2003 to locate water wells and surface water intakes, together with intakes in the Mississippi River, for each public water system.” The DWPP is an outreach program to help communities protect aquifers, rivers and lakes used for drinking water. The surveys have been updated in recent program work.

“We’ve recognized facilities and activities corresponding to chemical plants, gas stations, and cemeteries near public wells and water intakes that have chemicals associated with them,” Means mentioned. Barge-cleaning operations, anchorages and wharves have been recorded. “We have surveyed every little thing from St. Francisville all the way down to Boothville on each sides of the river, and tried to identify all plants and different activities discharging into the river,” he mentioned.

A third of Louisiana’s residents get their water from surface water–lakes, rivers and bayous–whereas two-thirds drink water that comes from wells and is pumped out of aquifers.

Means stated “the DEQ looks at drinking water use and what the standard of the river water needs to be, and has a strict, discharge-permitting system. Plants are allowed to discharge a specified amount of handled waste water into the Mississippi River underneath their permits.”

He continued “if plants deal with their water and comply with what’s authorized of their permits, they aren’t unduly polluting the water supply. The DEQ has routinely petroleum products terminals 10 worked to find unpermitted discharges for years in the new Orleans space and elsewhere.” The U.S. Coast Guard permits and inspects sewage-treatment systems for vessels in navigable waterways.

Means said “the DWPP tries to get as many people and companies concerned in pollution prevention as potential. We have arrange volunteer committees–made up of citizens, officials, water-system operators, business owners and anybody that is focused on taking part–to visit businesses close to water-provide intakes and wells, and we try to teach them on greatest management practices to stop pollution.”

Meanwhile, in a problem that has resurfaced, Carlson stated “OPH is conscious of the latest, EPA draft steering on perchlorate, and will proceed to work with EPA on related rules and regulations sooner or later.” In early February, the EPA mentioned it is going to regulate perchlorate, a element of rocket fuel, along with sixteen other volatile natural compounds that may cause cancer.

Carlson additionally said “the Workplace of Public Well being doesn’t advocate level-of-use remedy units for water, notably when water meets laws. Nevertheless, if a resident chooses to make use of a filter, they need to use an NSF-certified machine.” NSF Worldwide, an unbiased, public-well being group, checks and certifies merchandise.

Carlson suggested “run tap water till the temperature modifications, especially in older buildings within the morning, to flush out plumbing contaminants and metals from previous pipes. And at all times use water from the chilly tap for consumption.” Also, make sure that prescription medicine usually are not disposed of in sinks, toilets, drains or via any conduit to the watershed, he said.

This text was published in the Feb. 14, 2011 edition of “The Louisiana Weekly.”
Susan Buchanan
Business Writer

Industrial Waste U.S. Environmental Safety Company Petrochemicals Baton Rouge U.S.