St. Charles water judged best again

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 1, 2008


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – For the second time in four years, employees at the East bank water treatment plant in St. Charles Parish have taken water from the muddy Mississippi River and made it into the state’s best-tasting tap water, according to an industry association.

The Louisiana Conference on Water Supply, Sewerage, and Industrial Wastes bestowed the award on St. Charles’ water supply after a blind taste test last month of water samples from eight regions throughout the state. The water was tops in the conferences “South Central” region, which includes St. John and St. James Parishes.

Jared Aleman, a spokesman for the conference, said entries to the test are done on a voluntary basis. Representatives from St. John and St. James said neither parish elected to submit samples.

Panelists participating in the taste test came from the Department of Health and Hospitals, which standardizes the quality of water residents consume.

Robert Brou, director of waterworks for St. Charles Parish, said the news of the victory reached his desk just before he was about to address structural problems at the East Bank plant to the Parish Council. He said the 30-year-old plant is plagued by rusty support structures that stabilize the facility, but do not affect the treatment process.

“St. Charles gets four million gallons of water per day from the East Bank plant,” said Brou. “It is where most of the parish gets its water, so we can’t shut it down long enough to fix the supports.”

Brou said the secret to the great tasting water is mastery of water treatment, which the employees at the Norco plant have done.

“Our guys do a good job of clarifying the water to make it suitable for use and consumption,” said Brou. “The content of the water, which comes from the river, is also a factor, since all water has a specific taste based on the source, but it still has to be treated and chlorinated just right.”

Brou said St. Charles’ West Bank facility, which also gets its water from the river, has also tested well in the contest, but never won. The East Bank plant last won the award in the conference’s 2004 survey.

Brou said that the parish’s water will now move on to a national contest involving water samples from a three-state region. He said Louisiana is in the running against samples from Arkansas and Oklahoma. The contest is scheduled for October of this year.

“We’ve never gotten farther than this, so it may be our turn now,” said Brou.      

St. John Public Information Officer Buddy Boe said that even though St. John declined to submit an entry this year, he is confident the parish would consider entering next year, once the parish’s $3.3 million Nano Filtration system is finally online. Boe said the filtration system, which has suffered through a laundry list of delays and setbacks that spanned several years, is very close to completion.