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Investigative Unit: Bacteria in Assumption water one day before boil order issued

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ASSUMPTION PARISH - Concern is growing about a boil order that was issued in Assumption Parish last week. The WBRZ Investigative Unit uncovered bacteria was first detected in the water supply 24 hours before the boil order was issued. That boil order was lifted Saturday after tests came back clear.

Social media lit up with comments from residents who believe the boil order should have been issued sooner. The bacteria was discovered Thursday, and that's what caused state leaders to continue testing the water. Follow-up tests revealed there were traces of feces in the water.

We asked the State Department of Health and Hospitals today why it waited to issue the boil order.

"If we did water testing at any given time, it's spot testing," Dr. Jimmy Guidry with DHH said. "If someone isn't home, and the pipe isn't being flushed, someone flushes it, you may find bacteria at anytime. The bacteria that requires a boil order notice is E. coli."

A follow-up sample conducted Friday found fecal coliform in the water. Dr. Jimmy Guidry with DHH said each month there are 25 sites across Assumption Parish that are tested for safety. It was that routine test that discovered the bacteria Thursday.

"The screening test for total coliform, that's not going to get you sick so there's no reason to alarm folks," Guidry said.

But, less than 24 hours later there was reason for alarm. A follow-up test revealed there was fecal coliform. State leaders also urged residents not to drink the water. Fecal coliform is a bacteria that can enter the water supply through human or animal waste, according to DHH.

"When you think about water pipes that go to our homes, under our highways, there are plenty opportunities for leaks," Guidry said "There are plenty opportunities for where bacteria can get into your water that's why you have to continue to disinfect."

As citizens continue to question the time line, state and parish leaders said they followed their protocols, even though people weren't notified about the bacteria when it showed up.

The Assumption Parish Waterworks Department declined to do an interview today. State health leaders say the water you drink is not sterile. There are organisms that live in the water, and that's why the state routinely tests water samples.


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