Sunday, November 21, 2010

Water advisory alert

We live in a swamp. That much is clear. There are crawly things everywhere, eating your plants and trying to break into your kitchen. My hair is constantly curling and it takes a tremendous amount of styling gel to keep it from frizzing out of control.

When I awoke this morning, I heard a woman being interviewed on the radio about food spoilage, i.e. how long you can leave food on the counter; how long cooked food can be left in the fridge; how cold the fridge needs to be to keep bacteria from growing. These are not comforting thoughts to awake to. All this could lead me to become obsessive-compulsive. I'm already washing my hands with antibacterial soap and using different cutting boards to chop. What's next?

It is incredibly difficult to live without water. Ask folks living in the Sudan. But not having water in Louisiana seems a bit ridiculous. We're living in a bathtub of water. Yet, for two days, I've had to boil water to cook, make coffee and fill the kitty water bowl. The new kitten is already having some kind of intestinal problem, so all she needs is an infusion of fresh bacteria.

The Mayor says the warning is just precautionary, but what's that supposed to mean? (The alert says don't even open your mouth when taking a shower.) Around here, it probably means to drink more beer or Bloody Mary's since it is Sunday, after all. But the day has to begin with coffee or it's all downhill after that. It's all the fault of those people living upstream who persist in dumping their refuse in the river and thinking it's gonna be all right. It's not! Just stop it. We've already got a dead zone in the Gulf.

By 3 o'clock, it's supposed to be all right and by then the Saints game will have begun, so we won't be focused on anything else anyway.


NEW ORLEANS, LA Mayor Landrieu, Public Health officials, and Sewerage & Water Board officials addressed the media today to update citizens on the precautionary Boil Water Advisory issued for the East Bank of Orleans Parish.  The precautionary Boil Water Advisory is expected to be in place until Sunday afternoon at approximately 3:00 pm, when water test results can be verified by the state Department of Health and Hospitals. This does not affect the West Bank . 

“I want to stress that this is a precautionary measure and the City is following the protocol required by the state sanitary code,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu.  “Based on our conversations with health officials and the Sewerage and Water Board, we are confident that the risk is low.”

The State recommends that you disinfect your water by boiling it for one minute and letting it cool down prior to consumption (including drinking, cooking, brushing teeth, bathing or preparing food).  Boil water for one full minute in a clean container.  The one-minute boil time begins after the water has been brought to a rolling boil. (If there is a flat taste, it can be eliminated by shaking the water in a bottle or pouring it from one container to another.)

"We're uncertain at this point if there was a compromise to the system," said Dr. Takeisha Davis, Regional Medical Director at the Louisiana Office of Public Health. "The major risk is from ingestion, and we think that this risk is very low."

Davis added, “There is little risk to taking a shower, as long as individuals close their mouths and do not ingest the water.  However, we recommend that individuals with open wounds or immune system deficiencies take special precautions and avoid showering while the precautionary boil advisory is in effect.”

At approximately 7:00 am on Saturday, the Sewerage and Water Board's chemists and technicians began collecting 28 water samples from sites throughout the East Bank.  Analysis began at 12:00 PM of all samples.  Tests are being conducted at the Board's Water Purification Laboratory. Tests will be incubated for 24 hours to determine if any harmful bacteria are present in the samples.  If the tests show that the water is free of harmful bacteria and has a normal chlorine concentration, the precautionary Boil Water Advisory would then be lifted with the approval of the Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH).

At approximately 10:30 pm on Friday, the Sewerage & Water Board lost 25 cycle power at its main water plant, causing low water pressure (as low as 10 pounds per square inch) throughout the East Bank of the City. The Board has restored its 25-cycle power and is also operating on commercial power.  According to the Board, water pressure has approached near-normal pressure, as repairs to the electrical system at the main water plant are underway.  The Mayor has ordered an after action report to determine what caused the power failure.

The City’s Office of Homeland Security and the State Department of Health and Hospitals are in contact with hospital, hotel, restaurant, and tourism officials to help ensure continuity of operations.

For information, citizens can log onto or  Citizens can call 311 (and press zero) or 658-4000. 


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