This spring, St. Joseph, La. residents were having issues with the water coming out of their faucets. It was an unsightly brown color, but state officials said that it was not harmful.
Now, water in the town has been tested, and the results show that high amounts of lead have been found in some of the samples. Officials now say that the water could be dangerous.
On December 16, after two of the 13 water samples taken from the town tested positive for lead, John Bel Edwards, Louisiana governor, declared a public health emergency in the town.
No amount of lead had been present in the water samples taken earlier in the year.
According to a release from the governor’s office, there were two other residencies where high levels of copper were found as well. Officials said that the town has been having issues with water for a number of years. These issues stem from the fact that the water distribution system has been deteriorating due to poor maintenance.
Edwards visited the town recently and urged residents to use bottled water for drinking, preparing food, and brushing teeth. The state’s Department of Health is asking that residents refrain from drinking the water for 30 days.
Many residents of the town struggle to make ends meet financially, so to help with the cost of bottled water, the state will be handing out 3 liters of drinking water per person each day.
Many residents are struggling with the inconvenience the water situation has caused, but they aren’t placing the blame on Governor Edwards.
Instead, they blame the town’s outgoing mayor, Edward Brown. In March, Brown was accused of misappropriating and mismanaging funds. An investigative audit conducted by the state found that Brown was in control of a number of construction contracts, which he awarded to his cousin. The contracts totaled $127,058 within five years.
Not to mention, a year ago, the town was preparing for a $6 million project to help fix the aging water lines, but they were unable to obtain the money until Mayor Brown released his annual audit. The audit was due December 31 but was not completed until June. Brown stated that his late response was simply a glitch.
Residents of the town are happy that a new year will welcome a new mayor. One they hope will help fix their water issues.