Tapwater saga may end within the week

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Staff Reporter

EDGARD — St. John Parish council members were given reassurances in Edgard Monday night that the days of unpleasant tap water are coming to an end with the impending activation of the parish’s beleaguered tap water filtration system.

Representatives from General Electric and Montgomery Watson, the designers and manufacturers of St. John’s $3.3 million Nano Filtration system, which will safely remove impurities from the parish’s tap water, told council members that the system has been completely checked for damage and the only thing standing in the way of a complete turn on of the system is the final water tests.

“The system will be flushed out again this week,” said Ray Rials, an engineer for Montgomery Watson. “We will check the water for bacteria and if it is clear, it will be a go.”

Rials said if all goes well in the next few days, the system could begin to run by the end of next week.

“We don’t expect any setbacks, but we don’t want to cut any corners at this stage,” said Rials. “We all know that this has been a long time coming and we don’t want any further delay.”

General Electric representative Kade Gibson said it all comes down to the bacteria tests of the water. He said key parts of the system have been soaking in a solution that kills bacteria and said twice-daily tests would resume today.

“If the tests come back clean we can begin turning it on,” said Gibson. “We are not anticipating an additional flushing out.”

The Nano Filtration system has suffered through a multitude of setbacks and delays, with the most recent snag being the knockout of communication towers linking the facility with water wells in Ruddock. Parish officials have re-established the towers and, Rials said, they have been tested successfully.

“The signals that need to be sent are being sent correctly,” said Rials. “The system has not been turned on since before Hurricane Gustav made landfall, but there was no other damage so it should be ready to flip the switch.”

Following the meeting council members sounded pleased that the extensive struggle is finally coming to an end, but not altogether satisfied with how long it has taken.

“I’m happy we are at the stage in the game where we can finally offer residents in the parish quality tap water,” said District 6 Councilman Ronnie Smith. “I am still unhappy, however, that it has not been turned on already.”

District 7 Councilwoman Cheryl Millet, who attends every meeting with an empty glass, serving as a perpetual reminder of the status of the parish’s tap water, also still remains skeptical.

“I’ve heard it all before and I can tell you all the dates,” Millet said. “I just won’t be satisfied until the system is completely turned on and giving us better tap water.”

St. John Public Information Officer Buddy Boe said the samples will be sent to the Department of Health and Hospitals to be examined for contaminants. If the samples come back clean, the system will be set in motion. He said that all of St. John parish should be enjoying “bottled quality” tap water within a month of the system getting turned on.