St. John Parish test results negative for Naegleria Fowleri ameba

Published 1:17 pm Friday, December 19, 2014

By Monique Roth

LAPLACE — St. John the Baptist Parish government authorities received confirmation from DHH Friday morning that results from water samples taken earlier this month in Water District 1 have tested negative for the presence of Naegleria fowleri ameba.

State health officials said compliance with higher chlorine levels in Water District 1 — which services six parish schools and more than 12,500 people in Reserve, Garyville, Mt. Airy and a small portion of LaPlace — led to the elimination of the ameba.

The Utilities Department will continue with a 1.0 mg/l free chlorine treatment plan and switch back to a chloramine system after January 1, parish authorities said, adding water is safe for all uses and residents will be notified of the switch to chloramine in advance.

Since the detection of ameba on August 27, administrative staff, the Utilities Department and third party consultants have worked to eliminate the organism from the water system, and a chlorine burn was administered for 60 days.

Parish Public Information Officer Baileigh Rebowe said over 20 automatic flushers were added and all water lines flushed with additional chlorine. Water towers were also drained, treated and refilled.

“Our team has worked closely with DHH officials throughout this entire process and made immediate adjustments to our systems to protect our residents,” Parish President Natalie Robottom said. “We want to thank our residents for their patience and cooperation and reassure them that we will continue our all-out efforts to ensure this never happens again.”

DHH ruled St. John Parish successfully completed its required chlorine burn for St. John Water District 1 on Nov. 20.

“The parish has been very cooperative,” DHH Chief Engineer Jake Causey said of St. John Parish during the burn process, adding Friday’s test results are the next step in the parish being released from the Emergency Order.