For Immediate Release: February 10, 2022
Contact: Matt Rota, Healthy Gulf, email@example.com, 504-377-7840
Louisiana Water Sector Commission Awards 5 million in grants for Sulphur Water Treatment
Sulphur, La.— The Louisiana Water Sector Commission has approved a grant request for $5 million for water improvements in Sulphur, Louisiana. The funds originate from the America Rescue Plan Act, $22 million of which was appointed by the Louisiana Water Sector Commission to water grants in Southwest Louisiana. Announced recently by Louisiana State Senator Jeremy Stine, the project will include new clarifiers and associated pipelines to remove iron and manganese. Further details are still to be announced.
In response to this, Sulphur residents and community activists made the following statements:
Cindy Parker Robertson, a Sulphur resident and part of the Sulphur for Clean Water group and Micah 6:8 Mission said, “We are very pleased to hear about this grant. The water that we drink, bathe in, and use daily in Sulphur is frequently nasty and definitely not safe. We are all excited about the prospect of safer, fresh tasting, clear water. As the City of Sulphur is being proactive in responding to contaminants that are not yet regulated by the state, we hope they continue this by addressing other contaminants as well.”
“While this grant is an exciting step in the right direction for Sulphur, there is still more to be done. For example, elevated levels of lead and copper have been detected in areas, including Sulphur High School.”, said Matt Rota, Healthy Gulf’s Senior Policy Director. “Sulphur residents deserve clean, clear water. Not the yellowish-brown water that flows out of the faucets of Sulphur homes. Hopefully this grant will take Sulphur one step closer to clean water.”
Dr. Adrienne Katner of LSU Health Sciences Center, School of Public Health said, “While iron is a nutrient, it may have unhealthy downstream effects. It can bind to and inactivate chlorine, a disinfectant used to kill bacterial pathogens. As a nutrient, iron may also foster the growth of some iron-loving bacteria, like Legionella pneumophila. This bacterium causes a severe form of pneumonia. It is believed that high levels of iron in Flint’s water may have been one of the factors responsible for the significant increase in pneumonia deaths in Flint during its water crisis. Because the iron in Sulphur’s water is naturally occurring, it can be removed at the water treatment center. This may help the utility with its low chlorine levels. In more difficult cases, where the iron and other metals in the water is due to corrosive water and leaching from water distribution pipes, the problem may need to be controlled by corrosion control treatment, replacement of iron pipes in the water distribution system, or household water treatment systems. Whatever the case is, it helps to flush out water that’s been sitting overnight for a few minutes before collecting water for consumption or cooking.”
Residents of Sulphur long struggled with health risks and other problems associated with dirty drinking water. This award of funds to improve the water system comes after years of advocacy to the mayor and city council, but may not be enough to solve all of Sulphur’s water woes.
Sulphur suffers from more than just iron and manganese, in fact, samples from more than 20 local homes and the Sulphur High School taps have elevated levels of lead, copper, zinc, and barium, especially when the faucets haven’t been flushed. Further, Louisiana Department of Health tests have shown low chlorine levels, which could result in pathogen contamination. This means Sulphur also needs to make a plan to remedy these issues, as they proactively address the iron and manganese in the water, which have yet to be regulated by the state.
Those interested in supporting Sulphur residents in their pursuit of clean water can: sign the petition pushing for change, attend an upcoming City Council Meeting to make public comments, and join the Facebook group.
Healthy Gulf is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to collaborate with and serve communities who love the Gulf of Mexico by providing the research, communications, and coalition-building tools needed to reverse the long pattern of over exploitation of the Gulf’s natural resources.
Micah 6:8 Mission is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to “serve justice, love mercy and walk humbly”, addressing the needs of Sulphur and surrounding communities.