Public Health Emergency Declared in St. Joseph, La., After Contaminated Water Found
by Monique Judge, originally posted on December 16, 2016
The governor of Louisiana declared a public health emergency Friday after the water supply in a town in that state, St. Joseph, was found to be contaminated with lead and copper Thursday.
St. Joseph is a small town with a predominantly African-American population of about 1,100 people. It is the town Ava DuVernay’s Queen Sugar is based in.
The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) has released one month’s supply of bottled water to the Town of St. Joseph. Each individual will receive 3 liters of water per day. The bottled water supply will serve as a temporary remedy. A more permanent source is made available to the Town of St. Joseph while construction is underway.
Residents can receive bottled water tonight after 6:30 p.m. at the Town Hall on Main Street.
While initial test results show that the instances of elevated lead and copper levels are exclusive to these locations, Gov. Edwards has ordered testing of every household in the town within four weeks.
Resident Garrett Boyte told NPR at the time, “It’s just a given fact that at some point during the week, you’re going to have brown or yellow water.”
“Like most small water systems, when you don’t have many customers, it’s very expensive and it’s not affordable,” Guildry said. “But they have to do so because right now there’s risk of worse things than color.
Meanwhile, Boyte said in February that the attention being paid to the St. Joseph water system was at least in part due to the situation in Flint, Mich.: “What’s happening here in St. Joseph got the attention it’s gotten because Flint has made water a public issue.”