DONALDSONVILLE, LA (WAFB) - Donaldsonville residents should not drink or cook with water until further notice, according to the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. Residents are okay to bathe in the water.
On Tuesday night, DHH notified the Peoples Water System of Donaldsonville that how its drinking water is treated must be changed immediately after possible elevated levels of chlorine dioxide were discovered in the treatment system. The system must stop using chlorine dioxide at once.
According to DHH, Donaldsonville water has high levels of chlorine dioxide, an EPA-approved water treatment disinfectant, making it unsafe to drink. The levels were four to five times the EPA standard.
Officials say bottled water should be used until further notice. The City of Donaldsonville posted on social media Tuesday night that bottled water would be available at the DPW building across from the Frank Sotile Pavilion at 2175 Thibaut Drive.
Officials said they have about 1,000 cases and are giving out one case per car. They will keep going until about 10:30 p.m. or until they run out, which ever comes first.
Ascension Public Schools announced that all schools will be open Wednesday. The school system has arranged for safe drinking water to be delivered to the schools and Central Office in Donaldsonville.
DHH said they received the test results around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday. The decision to issue the health alert was made by 6 p.m. This will affected about 10,000 customers.
"Today, we were provided with information that is both alarming and confusing," said Dr. Jimmy Guidry with DHH. "We are concerned that there appears to be elevated levels of chlorine dioxide leaving the plant. But, we also have concerns about the testing procedures used by the water system and the overall training of the operators as well as questions about the technology used to conduct the sampling."
State health officials will conduct an on-site inspection of the system on Wednesday. DHH will take the appropriate next steps depending on the results of the inspection.
DHH warns residents not to use the water if pregnant or to give it to young children as exposure to chlorine dioxide can cause serious health effects to the nervous systems of some infants, young children and to the fetuses of pregnant women.