Much-awaited St. John water system now bumped to December

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – A delay in shipment of a key piece of equipment, along with hesitation from the manufacturing company to come down and do final installations, has pushed completion of St. John the Baptist’s water filtration system back another couple of weeks.

Parish officials told the St. John Council that the $3.3 million project to improve the region’s tap water should be online by the end of November, or December 1.

Parish Engineer C.J. Savoie said orifice plates, which hold the system’s filter membranes in place, had not arrived when expected. He, as well as Director of Public Utilities Ralph Bean, said the parts were due to arrive this week.

“They should have arrived with the other components, but for some reason they hadn’t” said Bean. “I have not seen them yet, but they should be in by the end of the week.”

Savoie said an additional snag for the project came when the project’s contractor, D&O Contractors Inc., recommended that representatives from the manufacturer, General Electric, install the final components.

“The people with D&O said GE needed to come down to install the plates because they are more familiar with the components,” said Savoie. “GE initially dragged their feet because it is such a small project, but D&O put enough pressure on them to get down here.”

Savoie said GE representatives would be coming down from Canada sometime next week to begin work on the final installation. He said the company claimed they would work through the Thanksgiving holiday to get the project online, but Savoie believed that was a bit too ambitious.

“They expect to have it all done by the end of next week,” said Savoie. “I think it is more likely it won’t be fully operational until at least December 1.”

The entire project has suffered through countless delays and holdups since the Environmental Protection Agency mandated that the parish comply with a 2002 clean water act to eliminate high levels of total triahlomenthanes (TTHMs), a proven cancer-causing agent, from the region’s water supply. Savoie has said the project has been plagued by delays in production and delivery of components from GE’s Ontario plant. He said the company had been suffering a backlog in production as a result of producing components for water systems affected by Hurricane Katrina.

When completed, the filtration system will lower the amount of toxic chemicals in the Parish’s tap water. Officials from the state Department of Health and Hospitals believed the Parish’s previous efforts to remove impurities and discoloration from the water, which is pulled from underground wells and the Mississippi River, was making the water overchlorinated. The filter system is a cleaner and safer alternative.