Water filter company raises concern in LaPlace

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 24, 2005


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – Many residents found something a little unusual on their front door when they came home from work on Tuesday. It was a flyer from a Metairie water-refining system, asking for water samples. A small plastic bottle to be filled was included.

In light of the water concerns St. John Parish is currently experiencing, many thought this request was tied in with the improvements being made by the Parish to the water system.

Not so, according to Ralph Bean, Director of St. John Public Utilities.

“This (request) is not affiliated with the Parish at all,” he said. “We do not enforce this.”

According to the Aquativa Water Refining System, the company that put the flyers and sample bottles on the door, this is just one way they market their services.

When contacted on Tuesday, Aquativa Vice-President Darren Berline said that the information on the flyer states specifically that the request is not associated with any City Water or County Health Departments.

Parishes are picked at random, he added.

“We test for TDS (total dissolved solids) and hardness,” said Berline. If test results show something in the water that Aquativa feels the residents should know about, they will contact them to explain how their product could be used for the concern. (Permission for this contact must be given by the homeowner by marking a certain box on the flyer.)

Depending on the construction of a particular house, and which of two units available were purchased, prices for Aquativa’s water-refining equipment begins around $1,000, according to the vice-president.

One unit can be used at a sink, and the other higher-end piece of equipment would be installed at the main water line going into the home.

This apparatus is shaped like a cylinder and measures about 4-ft. High and 9 inches wide. Filters costing about $200 are changed yearly, and water re-testing is also done at this time.

The company serves about 500 customers in the greater New Orleans area, according to Berline

“Every 6-8 months, a survey like this comes around,” said Bean, of Tuesday’s unexpected deliveries. “My question to them would be, ‘what are you treating the water for?'”

Bean said that plumbing in some older homes may cause particles in the water, and a filter on the faucet may help.

But as far as treating all the water in a home, he added that, on a personal level, he wouldn’t purchase such a system.

Bean also said that the Parish has been doing their part to improve the water quality and upgrade the water plants, items listed on the Department of Health and Hospitals mandates to the Parish.

In December 2003, the Parish received notification from the DHH to improve water quality, as well as make repairs to the water plants.

He added that, since a bond issue for $9.5 million for those improvements was okayed last summer, the orders have been addressed. “Out of 34 items, we have cleared 26 to 28 of them,” he said. What remains are the above-ground storage tank construction, signing of contracts, etc., he added.

“We are working hand-in-hand with DHH and EPA; while taking steps to correct the mandates.”

Last July, the voters of St, John Parish gave the Ok to allow the Parish to refinance $9.5 million in bonds to upgrade the Ruddock Well and the Lions Water Plant.

Bean stressed that this was done with monies from bonds maturing, so no new taxes were involved.

Letters to St. John residents from the Utilities Department have been sent out periodically during the past year, regarding the status of the water improvement project.

The most recent letter again stated that the Parish is currently in the process of designing and constructing a new water treatment system that will bring up water quality standards. It also re-iterates that the EPA and LDHH do not consider the water quality at this time to have any serious adverse health effects on human health as a result of short-term exposure.

“The water in St. John Parish is safe to drink,” said Bean.