ST. JOSEPH, La. — The tapwater in a Louisiana town of 1,200 is safe to drink, after more than a year on bottled water.
St. Joseph, the Tensas Parish seat, now has more than 14 miles (23 kilometers) of new water lines, 125 new fire hydrants, about 525 new electronic water meters, a new water plant and new wells, the governor’s office said in a news release. The old water plant also was overhauled.
Gov. John Bel Edwards traveled there Tuesday to celebrate the new system, built with nearly $8 million in state money and almost $600,000 from the Delta Regional Authority, and to lift the state of emergency he declared in December 2016.
“After living for more than 10 years with discolored water, the people of St. Joseph now have a new water treatment and distribution plant that is fully operational, providing high quality drinking water daily to homes, schools and businesses,” he said in a news release.
Water lines in the old system often broke, causing low water pressure and possible contamination.
After state tests found elevated lead and copper levels in Town Hall and three homes, Edwards ordered tests at all homes, schools and businesses.
The state has been supplying bottles and tanks of water since the emergency declaration, with more bottles from the town and volunteers.
“When the problem of lead came to our attention, we immediately began working with all homeowners who would allow us by testing their water before construction began and afterward,” said Dr. Jimmy Guidry, the state health officer. “The latest test results show that the water quality is better than it has been in more than a decade. This new system is producing water that is clean and safe.”