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DHH increases testing frequency for Louisiana water systems - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

DHH increases testing frequency for Louisiana water systems

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SHREVEPORT, La. -

The Louisiana Department of Health & Hospitals has announced an emergency rule requiring water systems in the state to maintain a higher residual disinfectant level and increase their number of sampling sites, after the brain-eating amoeba Naegleria fowleri was detected in part of DeSoto Parish's water system in October.

Most drinking water systems in Louisiana will be required to meet this new higher standard by February 1, 2014.

Many of the local systems in northwest Louisiana say they saw this change coming and have already been preparing.

Shreveport's water treatment facility Superintendent says they're looking at how much more the increased samples may cost.

She says their sampling stations will increase from 45 to 180, in areas of low flow and traffic, such as near the old General Motors plant.

They'll also collect an additional 30 samples per month on top of the current 120 being collected.

Justin Green, Plant Manager with Oil City Waterworks, says they're staying a step ahead of the situation.

He says they began increasing their chlorine residuals immediately after a conference call with DHH last month, after news broke of the potentially deadly amoeba.

"We're even looking at going a couple steps farther, that by the time the deadline comes along in February, that we are one up and above the requirements. We're putting in place better flushing policies, and more stringent monitoring," says Green.

Green says disinfection samples are taken daily and bacteria samples are taken monthly, two of which are taken monthly but will increase 25 percent to comply with DHH requirements.

The daily bacteria sampling locations will also increase by 25 percent.

Oil City Waterworks services the entire Oil City area, just on the north side of Caddo Lake stretching to a few miles north of Oil City, near where Vivian takes up their water system.

Green says DHH will be checking in periodically with the water system to ensure compliance, and the individual systems will be required to report the results of their monitoring as well.

Blanchard Water System says they too have been increasing the frequency of their testing, from 17 to 22 samples taken twice a week.

Bossier City Water says they routinely maintain their chlorine residuals at 1 ppm, which is above the the minimum 0.5 ppm required by DHH and what's been proven to kill the amoeba.

DHH says some water systems may choose to conduct chlorine flushes or burns to raise the level of free chlorine in their water lines. During this time, the water will remain safe to drink, but could change slightly in color and odor.

Health officials say even water in which the amoeba is detected is still safe to drink because stomach acid kills it.

However, it's strongly recommended that people avoid getting the water up their nose, which is how the amoeba travels to the brain.

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