BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals has launched a big change for water systems in the state that it said will make water safer to drink and use.
Workers monitored water samples from a state-approved station on the west bank in Ascension Parish Thursday evening.
The Department of Health and Hospital regulations require sample testing be done every day of more than 1,300 water systems throughout the state to check residual chlorine or disinfectant levels in the water. Beginning February 1, all systems will be required to have at least 0.5 milligrams of residual chlorine for every liter.
Ascension Parish Chief Administrative Officer Ken Dawson says the parish continuously monitors water it gets from two systems in Assumption and St. James Parish. He adds they will wait to see how those systems handle the new disinfectant requirements and then go from there.
"We will monitor throughout the system, if it's in compliance then we're fine. If it drops in a certain area, then we're looking at possibly having to add other chlorine stations, biocide stations to get levels up to compliance level," said Dawson.
The new regulations will basically ensure higher disinfectant levels are present in water coming of out of taps throughout the state and they are changes that Governor Bobby Jindal says will help set Louisiana apart from the rest of the nation.
"Obviously we want to make sure water is as safe as humanly possible for all our families and so I'm glad they're doing this," said Jindal. "This does exceed federal standards. This is a new higher standard but given the tragic events that have occurred it's the right thing to do."
Jindal was referring to events taking place in areas like St. Bernard Parish where several cases of parasitic amoebas were found to exist in the water supply. The new 0.5 residual chlorine level would eliminate those types of parasites, but Dawson says the next step will to make sure the integrity of water supplies are protected after implementing the changes.
"From what I'm hearing from DHH and conference calls I've been on, they're having those discussions and will determine the best possible situation to give the public high quality water, and not have any adverse affects," said Dawson.
DHH said it will be holding webinars and meetings with water system leaders pver the next few months to help them reach compliance with the new rule.