Water main break forces LaPlace boil water order

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 22, 2009



LAPLACE—St. John Parish’s east bank water system suffered a new setback Monday when a broken water main forced parish officials to issue a boil water order to all of LaPlace.

A 24-inch underground pipe that sends water from the Ruddock well to the entire LaPlace area suffered a split around 9 a.m. Monday, said St. John spokesman Buddy Boe. Boe said the water main is the only source of tap water for the LaPlace area.

Although the water system never suffered a drop in pressure when the pipe ruptured, Boe said the parish still issued a boil water order at around 11:45 a.m. as a precaution based on how much water the parish was holding in reserve tanks. Boe said he expects the order to be called off today.

During a boil order, water is safe for bathing, but it should be boiled or otherwise disinfected before being used for drinking or food preparation, according to a release from the parish.

Boe said parish officials used a calling system to notify restaurants, businesses and schools about the break in the main. He said River Parishes Hospital in LaPlace was transferred to the Lions Water Treatment Plant’s system, which provides water from the Mississippi River to Reserve and Garyville.

Carl Desselle, water plant manager for St. John Parish, said the water line was shut off after the break was discovered so that a work crew could begin making temporary repairs to the line. He said while the line was shut off, the LaPlace area was being supplied treated drinking water from three water towers in the area. Boe said the towers, which hold about half a million gallons each, contain enough to supply the area with eight hours worth of drinking water. The plant was back on line Monday night.

Desselle said Nathan Ayme, a parish water plant operator, discovered the leak about 9:15 a.m. when he noticed water levels in the tanks were low. Ayme said as he drove up the road toward LaPlace, he noticed water bubbling up from the ground about a mile from the Ruddock plant.

Boe said a crew from Boh Brothers was sent out immediately to make emergency repairs to the line, which is buried 4 feet under ground. The crew had a hole dug out of a swampy area by Monday afternoon.

Desselle said it was not clear exactly what caused the break in the line. He said the line had been broken in the past by tree roots growing around the pipe. He said the main line has broken three times since it was installed in 1997.