Is the water system safe to use? Depends on what the water is used for. To was a car? Maybe. To take a bath or wash your clothes. Sometimes. To use is drinking water? Read on.
All water systems within the State are under the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals – Center for Environmental health. Water system operators are required to monitor, maintain and file certain certifications that proper steps are being taken to assure a safe water supply to the public. According to the local office in Monroe, Rayville is not, on the most part, abiding by regulations set forth to assure public safety.
On Sunday morning, November 30, 2008, Rayville experienced a city wide water outage for several hours.. This not only affected homes but business such as hotels, service stations, restaurants and the local hospital. The elevated water tank was allowed to run dry. Apparently, none of the three water well pumps were in operation and the town’s certified operator could not be found. (Rayville is suppose to have a certified back up operator.) Water service was returned sometime before noon with the all too familiar brown water we are still experiencing. Not only did this outage cause a huge inconvenience to everyone, but I’m sure local businesses lost money also.
I was a mechanical/plumbing consultant with the USACE on Ft. Polk for a few years and understand mechanical problem can and do exist, but one of the standard operating procedures (as mandated by the State of Louisiana) is: before any new water distribution lines are to be placed in service or if the water system or parts of a system experiences loss of water pressure then there are precautions to be made. One is to flush the system and have e coli test to be ran to assure that the distribution lines have been properly sanitized before being placed into service. Certifications are sent to the state. (Loss of pressure can lead to back siphon of poisons and other chemicals being introduced into the system). Apparently, none of the above precautions were performed to assure a safe water supply. It wasn’t until I alerted the Health department’s Monroe office on the following Monday that a boil water order was issued and the lines were to be flushed. Even at that, to date, the Health Department have never received any test reports from the city on this incident. Apparently, the Health Department have been left out of the loop on other water quality issues also.
We have all heard of many excuses in the past blaming this or that but the excuses are running out. The point is, the water system is being ran like the city, that is , with either incompetent, ill trained or uncaring personnel that should resign or be fired. (Because of the recession, there are many highly qualified job seekers on the market that can do the job so there is no problem in hiring qualified personnel.)
We pay some of the highest water rates in the state of Louisiana and with the grant money that has (supposedly) been spent for improvements and repairs, there is absolutely no excuse in not assuring a safe, reliable water system for the citizens of Rayville