Four water systems that serve Tensas Parish are under a boil advisory following Monday evening's violent storms. A tornado ripped through the town of St. Joseph, destroying portions of the Tensas Water Distribution Association's water treatment facility. The plant produces water for three systems, including Tensas Water Distribution Association, Lake Bruin Water District Number 1 and the town of Waterproof. These three systems serve 5,391 people. The resulting loss of pressure creates the potential for contaminants to enter the water line, and state regulations require a boil advisory following such a breach of the system to ensure the safety of drinking water.

The Lake Bruin Water System is also under a boil advisory after a fallen tree knocked out water service to six customers. The boil advisory affects those six customers who live between the Lake Bruin Water treatment plant and the Lake Bruin State Park.

If you live in an area under boil advisory or you have lost water pressure at your tap, or if the water pressure is extremely low, State Health Officer Jimmy Guidry, MD, recommends homeowners disinfect their water by any one of the following methods prior to consumption (including drinking, cooking, brushing teeth 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. (The flat taste can be eliminated by shaking the water in a bottle or pouring it from one container to another.)
  • If the water is clear, mix 1/8 teaspoon of unscented, liquid chlorine laundry bleach with one gallon of water and let it stand for at least 30 minutes prior to consumption.
  • If the water is cloudy or colored, use 1/4 teaspoon of unscented, liquid chlorine laundry bleach per gallon of water. Be sure to mix thoroughly.

If the treated water has too strong a chlorine taste, it can be made more palatable by allowing the water to stand exposed to the air for a few hours or by pouring it from one clean container to another several times.

Boiling is the most effective method to disinfect water, particularly for people who are severely immunocompromised (infected with HIV/AIDS, cancer and transplant patients taking immunosuppressive drugs, or people born with a weakened immune system) and for infants and elderly who wish to take extra precautions.

People obtaining water from a public water system under a boil advisory must continue to disinfect their drinking water by one of the above listed methods until notified by your water system or the Department of Health that the water has been tested and is safe to drink.

People who have been affected by loss of water service may expect some irregularities with their water while efforts are being made to ensure that the water is safe. It is expected that water may have an unusual chlorine odor as well as possible sediments appearing in the water while these special precautions are taking place. Flushing household taps for a few minutes should fix these problems.

The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens. To learn more about LDH, visit http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov. For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow LDH's blog, Twitter account and Facebook page.