Residents still not satisfied with Sulphur water quality, City says they are making progress

Published 7:24 am Sunday, November 7, 2021

Some residents say water is no better in Sulphur. A few contacted the Southwest Daily News by email or phone after an article was published on Oct. 30 about the status of the Verdine Water Plant Improvement Project.

After a Oct. 26 special meeting — unrelated to any water issues —Mayor Mike Danahay was quoted as saying, “the water system is clearing up.”

“Mine has not improved and the city is still flushing the lines every day,” said Terry Anderson. “It’s more than just a few of us, otherwise I don’t think I would be seeing so many social media posts in response to that article.”

Callie Hanks has three children, a four, three and one-year old. She describes the water as disgusting.

“We’ve tested our water and it does contain lead,” she said. “The town doesn’t see an issue with this water, and we’re expected to drink it, bathe in it, brush or teeth with it and wash our dishes and clothing in it.”

The water leaves a nasty film and sandy residue on our skin, according to Hanks.

“My skin has broken out in acne and rashes and my hair is dry and brittle and falling out in handfuls. This is not okay for any family to live with, much less our children,” she said in an email to the Southwest Daily News.

The following statement was released from the Louisiana Department of Health earlier this year regarding a Sulphur resident’s request to provide information about the city’s water quality.

“LDH has received customer complaints regarding discolored water for residences and businesses primarily served from the E. Verdine water plant. Some residents utilized home test kits to analyze samples from residences and also local schools and expressed concerns with the results. Out of an abundance of caution, LDH conducted investigative sampling at two schools, E. K. Key Elementary School and Sulphur High School. The analysis was completed by LDH’s EPA certified drinking water laboratory. The results of this testing and the letter issued to the schools, along with LDH’s recommendations, is located on our website at: https://ldh.la.gov/index.cfm/page/3275.

Furthermore, LDH moved up the City of Sulphur’s scheduled 2022 routine lead and copper monitoring to this year (2021). Based on these 2021 routine tap lead and copper results, the City of Sulphur is in compliance with Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) action levels for lead and copper. Under the current LCR requirements, a water system is in compliance with the LCR action levels if no more than 10 percent of the samples exceed the action level. Out of the 30 total samples collected from the City of Sulphur, only 1 sample was above the lead action level (0.015 mg/L) and another sample was above the copper action level (1.3 mg/L).

Under the current LCR, the water system is required to notify the consumer of the individual test results and how to reduce exposure to lead. In addition, the water system has collected a follow up sample from the home with the elevated lead result. The results of the follow up sample are currently pending.

The first two filters that were received in September have been installed and are functioning at the water plant, according to Erica Martin, public information officer for the city of Sulphur. The second set of filters arrived Wednesday for installation.

“This is a process that will happen two more times until all eight filters have been replaced. Each set of filters does have a turnaround time for inspection and installation when they arrive at the plant, but are put in place and functioning before the next set arrives,” Martin said.

Mayor Danahay stated in the article published last week that the COVID surge and supply chain disruption did impact the project schedule put in place earlier this year. According to a schedule released in April, all the filters would have been delivered by the end of 2021. However, it will be after the first of the year that all eight filters will be delivered and installed. As those filters come in and are installed, the city will share the information with the Daily News. A water treatment program is also planned for 2022.

“The City continues to implement the multi-million dollar comprehensive plan to improve the Verdine Water Plant,” Mayor Danahay said in an emailed statement to the Southwest Daily News. This includes the replacement of all water filter vessels at the Verdine Street water plant and drilling an additional new well. These improvements are currently being performed and placed into operation as they are completed. The city continues to work with the Louisiana Department of Health to meet or exceed all water quality standards set forth by the state.”