ABITA SPRINGS - An everyday routine one January morning stopped Jessica Lotspeich in her tracks.
"Went to go brush my teeth, and when I turned on the water, the odor coming from the faucet was so strong I started to gag," she said.
Lotspeich says the taste and smell of heavy chlorine in her water has persisted ever since.
"It can go from smelling like bleach to just smelling like a really heavy chemical smell," she described, "The water tastes bad on your tongue. Don't want to cook with it. We bathe in it, but it's made mine and my daughter's hair more coarse."
While there are many who have not experienced any problems with their water, the concerns were widespread enough that town leaders hosted a meeting about the issue with DHH. They explained that the town was now complying with a 2014 state requirement to maintain a specific level of chlorine treatment throughout its water system in an effort to kill off potential amoeba. The mayor says the town had only just started following the state's requirement to treat its water with chlorine, in general, five years ago.
"What we had to do by law is, our injection point is out at our well, we had to crank up the amount of chlorine so that the furthest user has that minimum residual. So that increased the chlorine in some of the households between that," said Lemons. The mayor said the explanation garnered mixed reaction.
"A lot of people said well yea, you've gotta keep our water safeguarded, but the majority of people did not like it," he said.
DHH also said the adjustment shouldn't be resulting in a chlorine smell or taste. So the town created a special complaint form for residents to report instances of heavy chlorine, so they can be investigated. So far, according to the mayor, all complaints reviewed have turned up normal test results.
The town, also, now has a frequent line-flushing schedule to prevent any chlorine from settling in any particular area.
"I think we're trying to do the best that we can based on the law," he said.
Residents do have some options in order to try to minimize and taste or smell issue with their water. One is to run the water a couple of minutes before actually using it. Another is to get a filter for your water faucets or home system.
Residents say the burden shouldn't be on them to assure Abita Springs lives up to its reputation.
"Find out what the problem is and fix it," said Lotspeich.
If you're an Abita Springs resident, that special form to report a chlorine issue is on the town's website, www.townofabitasprings.com.