January brings water fee increase

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Starting in January, many consumers will notice a small fee increase on their water bill.  However, the Louisiana Department of Health says the fee will make a big difference for their water inspection program.

"The things that we look at have to do with metals, which is lead or iron or manganese that we're testing for. Bacteria, brain eating ameba, chlorine, disinfectant byproduct," said state health officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry.

The Health Department is responsible for monitoring local water systems, for example making sure systems meet state and federal requirements for safe drinking water.  However, budget cuts in 2012 eliminated positions that helped in that process.

Since then, Guidry says they've seen a startling increase inviolations around the state. "When we were able to have eyes on and work with them and had folks to help get those samples, we had less violations so we could find things earlier and address them earlier," said Guidry.

Anyone connected to a community water system already pays a monthly 26 cent fee for the health department's water inspection program.  Starting this month, that fee will increase to one dollar a month.  Guidry says the money will pay for more engineers and experts to help water systems stay safe.

"For what it's protecting, your health and exposure to different chemicals and bacteria, it's well worth the investment," said Guidry.

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