The Investigators: Records show Donaldsonville water had high chlorine dioxide levels for months

Donaldsonville mayor declares state of emergency related to 'do not drink' water alert - 6 p.m.

DONALDSONVILLE, LA (WAFB) - The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals issued a warning Tuesday night for Donaldsonville residents not to drink the water. That health alert came after the agency learned about high levels of chlorine dioxide that were found in a test.

The Investigators took a look at records to see when the Peoples Water Company may have known about the high chlorine dioxide levels and what DHH said the company should have done.

"When [chlorine dioxide]'s measured and monitored, it's perfectly safe. Many water systems use it," said Dr. Jimmy Guidry, State Health Officer. "When it's not monitored appropriately, and not measured appropriately, it runs the risk that if it gets out to people and people are exposed it can cause health issues."

The over the limit readings of chlorine dioxide used to disinfect water systems came to light during a routine inspection by DHH two days ago.

"We picked this up on inspection and the water system operators did not do what they needed to do to make sure the public is safe," Guidry said.

Records obtained by the Investigators found that Peoples Water violated the maximum allowed safety levels of CL-02 going back seven months.

Company log records reported a reading twice that of the safety limit of .8 milligrams per liter on September 17, 2015. The reading on October 29, 2015 was more than five times the limit, and the reading was seven times above the maximum on March 2, 2016.

Guidry said the water system is required to collect three additional samples when warranted and report them.

"We feel like they didn't do their job to let us know that there might have been some risk involved. So we're trying to verify was that in the treatment plant or outside the treatment plant," Guidry said.

Donaldsonville Mayor Leroy Sullivan wants answers so he can assure people the water is safe.

"Of course I'm upset and I want to know why it happened, why it wasn't reported, why there wasn't corrective measures taken," Sullivan said. "Right now my main focus is to make sure I can get good drinking water to the people of Donaldsonville."

"We certainly would look at was this intentional, was this because of poor performance of the device that they measure, or was this poor individual performance," Guidry said.

DHH inspectors are working to get those answers as soon as possible.

The state is currently picking up the tab for all the bottled water. So far, that has been more than 10,000 bottles, costing about $2,100.

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