Thursday, September 4, 2014
ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST PARISH – Since receiving notification by conference call on August 27, 2014 at 3:15 p.m. of the detection of the Naegleria fowleri ameba in St. John Water District #1, Parish staff immediately implemented corrective measures to address the deficiency. This process is in coordination with the Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH), the Utilities Department, Office of Public Safety, and the Office of Fire Services. Residents and parish officials were notified of the emergency order and recommended precautions by phone, emails, social media, Government Access Channel, and home delivery of printed material and FAQs. Fact sheets were also delivered to churches, schools, libraries and other public buildings in the affected areas of Reserve, Garyville, Mt. Airy and LaPlace west of River Parishes Hospital and along West 5th St. from Apricot St. to Acorn St.
Based on scientific data from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and information from physicians within DHH, the water is safe for drinking, cooking, and bathing; however, residents should avoid water entering deep into the nasal cavity, which could reach the lining of the brain. This warning also applies to surface water in lakes, ponds, streams and rivers, where this type of ameba is known to thrive in hot weather conditions. Although contraction of this infection is extremely rare, residents are advised to continue the precautions until advised otherwise.
On the morning of August 28th at 7:00 a.m., a Chlorine Burn was initiated, releasing free Chlorine at elevated levels into Water District #1 to obtain a 1.0 parts per million (ppm) residual throughout the system. This process will last for 60 days from the time 1.0 ppm is obtained throughout Water District #1. During this time, residents may experience a change in smell, taste, and discoloration. The Utilities Department will test seventy sites identified by DHH once per week to verify adequate levels of Chlorine. Additional sampling has been conducted at school entrances and fountains and schools have been notified of acceptable Chlorine levels at their water fountains. Additionally sampling and analysis was initiated in all water systems as a precaution and additional flushing is taking place at remote locations to assure adequate Chlorine residuals.
“Maintaining a safe water system is our top priority and we have made significant progress toward correcting all identified deficiencies. We are cooperating fully with DHH and State Police who are conducting an investigation into perceived inconsistencies in documentation, while undergoing our own internal investigation,” said Parish President Natalie Robottom. “I feel any presumption of criminal or fraudulent behavior or mismanagement is premature, especially since the investigation has not yet concluded. Once completed, a full report will be released,” she added in a statement on Tuesday.