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What that card about your water in Algiers means

The card talks about the level of organic contaminants in the water and how they are not in compliance with the state sanitary code, but the S&WB insists the water is safe to drink.

NEW ORLEANS — Algiers residents have been receiving notices from the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board this week telling them that the water coming into their homes is out of compliance with the state sanitary code.

Eyewitness News talked to a scientist who told us that the violation is not a major problem for the Sewerage and Water Board, but that it does deal with the level of organic contaminants in the drinking water.

The notes state that the drinking water on the west bank of New Orleans did not achieve the minimum state standard for Total Organic Carbon or TOC, which is defined as a measure of the total amount of organic matter that is present in the water.

Disinfectants that are used to clean the water, like chlorine, can react with the TOC to form unintended byproducts which may pose health risks.

Curtis Elmore, a spokesman with the Sewerage and Water Board maintained that the level remains well below the maximum contaminant level.

“Your water is safe to use. It is safe to drink,” he said. “This form and this public notice does not constitute an emergency in any way, shape or form.”

Dr. Adrienne Katner from LSU Health New Orleans said she has studied the city’s water supply and se said that having too much TOC in the water doesn’t present any immediate concerns. But, she added, there can be health risks associated with long term exposure.

“In the grand scheme of things, really having too much TOC in the system is the lesser of two evils when you’re talking about chlorinating water and making sure the people are safe from water pathogens.

Despite that assurance, Algiers residents, like Bernice Mironne and Oliver Rose said the notice just adds to their reluctance to drink tap water in the first place.

“We don’t go near it except to water the flowers in the yard,” said Mironne.

“I use bottled water,” added Rose. “As far as bathing and things like that, watering plants, no concern.”

According to the Sewerage and Water Board, the lack of TOC compliance occurred in the fourth quarter of 2018. The board said it is now making improvements at the Algiers water plant to get the levels back to where they need to be.

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