February 28, 2002 - Water Works

The thirstiest town in America is not far from Baton Rouge. It lies 66 miles southwest of the capital, on the Iberia-Vermilion Parish line.

Delcambre, Louisiana -- one of the prettiest places in the world -- but there's something about Delcambre. It is a town with a powerful thirst! Mayor Carol Broussard explains, "Because the water is so good, Allen. It's probably the best in the United States."

Allen: "How many gallons a day do y'all go through here?" I ask.
Mayor: "About 1,200,000 gallons."
Allen: "How many people have you got in town?"
Mayor: "We have a little over 2,000 people."
Allen: "Do the math. That averages out to how much?"
Mayor: "About 600 gallons per person."

Knock on the door and ask an average resident of Delcambre, like Merza Smith, "Have you been drinking your water today?" "Yes I have," she says. "Do you know how much you have drunk today? Take a guess." "Two glasses." "Did you know that the per capita consumption is about 600 gallons? Are you going to be able to hold up your end?" "I don't think so."

The mayor hands me a hose. It seems that I've got to drink my 600 gallons or they won't let me go back to Baton Rouge. Everybody has a quota.

Really, it began when Delcambre put in a new well -- more pressure, old pipes. Leaks started springing up. "Having more pressure, the old lines can't take it," says town water operator Bobby LeBlanc. "But we need the pressure." $225,000 in state money is on its way to Delcambre to help replace the old water lines.