Brown water woes concern Ponchatoula residents

Northshore Bureau Chief Ashley Rodrigue talks about brown water that continues to appear in Ponchatoula.

PONCHATOULA La. -  A social media campaign dubbed "Brown Watergate" is uniting Ponchatoula residents who say they're tired of dealing with frequent discolored water.  

And it's got city leaders responding.  

What usually runs crystal clear through the taps in the city, poured dark and disturbing Friday.  

The water discoloration faded through the weekend, and Monday, Mayor Bob Zabbia cited a city operation, to switch service wells for a renovation and cleaning project, as the culprit, fixable with pipe flushing.  

"We think it washed some of the sediment into the system that's causing some of the brown water," he said.   But as homeowners began sharing their pictures and concerns on social media, it became clear this wasn't the first time and questions flowed about why.  

"It's been an extreme burden," said Bub Tucker II, "First and foremost, it's a health concern. We're not sure what's causing it, what's in the water. I no longer let my kids drink the water out of the faucet. We buy bottled water."  

"I just know that brown water is a problem that's years old. Water reporting, cleanliness, findings have been a problem that's years old. It seems like there's just been a lack of information there," said resident and attorney Parker Layrisson.  

Zabbia acknowledges the city has had brown water woes for the past 18 months and believes new chlorine standards from DHH, in response to amoeba scares, is a contributing factor.  

But now he's tapped a water expert to give the city direction on how to end the dirty draining once and for all.  

"We feel very good about the system," said Zabbia, "For the most part, we have good water.  It's just that this issue is really driving us a little bit crazy."    

Residents in Ponchatoula say they want this time to be the last time.    

And while some are encouraged by the city's response to make that happen, so far, others are doing their own brain-storming around the water-cooler Wednesday night.     

"It first started on social media and it took track, now we're here and hopefully something will be done," said Tucker.    

That meeting is being held at the Layrisson Law Firm at 125 East Pine Street in Ponchatoula at 5:30 p.m.    

The mayor hopes to have preliminary suggestions from the water expert Friday.  


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