La. Dept. of Health issues administrative order to Clinton over water issues

La. Dept. of Health steps in after issues with Clinton water system drag on

CLINTON, LA (WAFB) - The Louisiana Department of Health mailed off a certified administrative order to the Town of Clinton and Clinton Mayor Lori Bell, with additional copies going to the town’s council members.

It reads:


PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that you are ordered to comply with the demand contained in this Administrative Order of which a true and correct copy accompanies this NOTICE.

The administrative order cites 16 deficiencies the Town of Clinton has yet to fix. The order does just that, orders the town when it must have each violation fixed by and how it needs to be fixed by law. The town will get anywhere between 30 and 90 days to fix the violations, depending on what the deficiency is. The town will get until July 31, 2019 to repair any issues with both wells and until August 10, 2019 to submit documentation showing the water system has complied with all requirements.

VIOLATIONS CITED BY STATE

  • Inadequate minimum chlorine residuals were found within this public water system during the July 1, 2018 through July 31, 2018, August 1, 2018 through August 31, 2018, and December 1, 2018 through December 31, 2018 compliance monitoring periods.
  • Chlorine residuals are not being sampled and recorded daily
  • The system cannot provide copies of daily chlorine residuals collected within the last three years
  • The system cannot provide copies of results for bacteriological samples collected within the last ten years
  • The water system does not have a formal cross-correction control program
  • This public water system is not being operated by a person whose competency has been duly certified by the state health officer for the type of facility and the population it serves
  • The sample tap configuration at the Point of Entry (POE) for Well No. 1 (Taylor street) consisting of two taps sharing a “T” connection and a third tap on a separate leg of the piping arrangement
  • The system has not developed and implemented a routine flushing program
  • The system has not created and maintained a record of each complaint received by telephone, letter, or electronic mail from customers or users
  • Owners, responsible parties, and/or operators of the system have not attended a training course incorporating topics concerning proper customer service, customer relations, or related matters
  • Well No. 1 (Taylor Street) is inoperable and Well No. 3 (Pine Ridge Road) is the only source of water for the Town of Clinton
  • The inlet/outlet pipe of the Elevated Storage Tank (Taylor Street) has a significant leak
  • A watertight sanitary seal is not provided on Well No. 3 (Pine Ridge Road) due to an unsealed pump wire
  • The flow meter at Well No. 3 (Pine Ridge Road) is not operational
  • There is a sinkhole next to the foundation of Well No. 1 (Taylor Street)
  • A strong odor of chlorine gas is detected when Well No. 3 (Pine Ridge Road) is in operation

If town officials are not able to meet the deadlines, they have a few options. They can ask for an extension, which the state will decide whether to grant or deny. The town can request a hearing within 20 days. If all fails and the town does not fix all the violations by the state’s deadlines, the town could be fined up to $847 a day until everything is within compliance.

RELATED STORIES:

The letter comes after LDH first told Clinton officials in September 2018 about the deficiencies the water system had been cited with. That notice gave the mayor 90 days to respond with what actions the town would be taking to correct the issues and by when. Instead, officials said Mayor Bell never responded.

It’s why LDH sent another notice in December 2018 giving the town 30 more days with the deadline being Jan. 17, 2019 to fix everything and to get a second well, that has been down for months, up and running. Currently, only one well provides water to the entire Town of Clinton, 2,541 people.

Mayor Bell told the 9News Investigators a few weeks ago majority of the deficiencies had been fixed and that the second well was ready to be put back online after the state’s water samples came back clear. However, LDH inspectors went out to check the violations and if the well was ready and found that not to be the case. Instead, they found four more deficiencies including a sinkhole by one of the wells.

After a series of 9News Investigations, Louisiana Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera sent a team of auditors this week to Clinton to begin reviewing the town’s finances.

LLA’s Director of Government Bradley Cryer said he sent auditors to Clinton on Monday and town officials are cooperating with turning over records.

Cryer added as of now, the Town of Clinton is expected to go before the Fiscal Review Committee in February. If committee members have enough evidence and believe town officials cannot handle their own finances, the state would appoint a financial administrator to take over Clinton’s finances.

A call into Mayor Bell’s attorney for response was not returned in time for this report.

Copyright 2019 WAFB. All rights reserved.