Water ready for taste test

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 28, 2008


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE — St. John Council members were treated to a heaping helping of good news ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday with the announcement that the parish’s much-maligned tap water filtration system is finally up and running.

Representatives from Montgomery Watson and General Electric, the designers and manufacturers of the $3.3 million Nano Filtration system, which will safely remove impurities from the parish’s tap water supply, told the council that the final bacteria tests came back negative and the system has been running smoothly since last Wednesday.

“The system is on,” said Montgomery Watson Principal Engineer Ray Rials. “We’ve seen no problems. It is operating normally.”

Rials told the council that GE representatives have been on hand all last week while plant operators performed testing on the system’s three separate units. He said the final test was performed Tuesday at 1 p.m. and it is now ready to hook into the parish’s tap water system.

“We will do one more flushing of the system before we connect to the parish’s tap water pipes,” said Rials. “Filtered water will be flowing throughout the system sometime early next week.”

The system has suffered through a laundry list of setbacks, including a back order of materials, miscommunication over pressure and the onset of a major hurricane that damaged vital components. Activation of the filtering mechanism, which will use reverse osmosis to remove contaminants that give the tap water an unpleasant brown color, has been delayed well over a year. Upon hearing the announcement, council members present at the meeting could barely contain their excitement concerning the much-anticipated news.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” said an elated Ronnie Smith, who represents District 6. “It is great to hear that we have finally reached the end of this.”

Also sharing in the excitement was District 7 Councilwoman Cheryl Millet, who attends every meeting with an empty drinking glass that represents her frustration over the delays the system has suffered.

“Is it time to take my glass down?” said a smiling Millet. “Hallelujah, this is just wonderful news. I can’t wait to take my first tour of the facility.”

Although the system is running smoothly, Rials said it will still take some time before all parish residents are able to enjoy the “bottled water quality” tap water that has been promised. He said it still might take a couple of weeks before the filtered water works its way through the system.

“There are a lot of pipes that the water must go through,” said Rials. “It’s similar to water running through a long hose. It doesn’t reach the nozzle right away.”

Rials said it will come down to how close residents live to the facility where the filtration system is housed. He said residents living closer to the plant, located just south of Interstate 10 near US Highway 51 in LaPlace, would get fully filtered tap water sooner than others, but residents parish wide would be enjoying it within the next two weeks.

St. John Public Information Officer Buddy Boe said the parish is planning a formal ceremony to officially christen the filter system. He said it will probably take place sometime next week.

“We’re going to have a tasting ceremony where the council and Parish President (Bill) Hubbard will get their first sip of the water,” said Boe.