Chlorine burn news welcomed in water saga

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, November 25, 2014

“Cooperative” was the way Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Chief Engineer Jake Causey described St. John the Baptist Parish throughout the state-mandated chlorine burn.

It’s not the most exciting description and is certainly not the most glowing compliment ever given, but it does mark a moment of good news in what has been a black eye for our parish.

State officials said Thursday St. John successfully completed its required chlorine burn for St. John Water District 1. However, the parish is still under an Emergency Order following the announcement that water taken in an August sample tested positive for Naegleria fowleri ameba.

The next step in being released from the Emergency Order takes place Dec. 3, when DHH will collect samples for Naegleria fowleri testing. Those results are expected by Dec. 17.

Parish President Natalie Robottom said the consistent levels of chlorine in the water have eliminated conditions that breed the ameba and restores water that is safe for all purposes.

That is wonderful news considering how many “brain-eating ameba” headlines and warnings were (rightfully) jammed into the region’s collective conscious.

The Emergency Order remains in action, but last week’s chlorine burn news signals one end is near.

It also clears the path for the many pressing issues that still exist in this situation, which include, but are not limited to, the prosecution of two parish employees for their role in collecting sample data, a class action lawsuit filed against the parish and ongoing acrimony between the St. John Parish Council and Robottom’s administrative team. Last month, the Council voted unanimously to request Robottom seek the resignation of her director of utilities, a request she deemed unnecessary and ill-timed.

The following guidelines are still in place for St. John Water District 1, but Thursday’s announcement means they should be gone by Christmas.

• DO NOT allow water to go up your nose or sniff water into your nose when bathing, showering, washing your face or swimming in small hard plastic/blow-up pools.

• DO NOT jump into or put your head under bathing water — walk or lower yourself in.

• DO run bath and shower taps and hoses for five minutes before use to flush out the pipes. This was most important the first time residents used the tap after the water utility raised the disinfectant level.

For more information on how to protect yourself and on the current status of testing, visit