As if the residents of New Orleans had not dealt with enough water-related issues in the past few years, health officials advised residents in the French Quarter and Lower 9th Ward areas to not use their water for any purpose without boiling it first.
Boiling the water will kill off any bacteria which may have grown in the lines of a water treatment facility where recent electrical and mechanical problems resulted in lower than acceptable pressure readings.
When pressure drops, water sits stagnant and as we all know, stagnant water can become a breeding ground for bacteria.
While testing has not detected any bacteria in the water, yet, health officials in New Orleans decided to err on the side of caution and issue a ‘boil water advisory’ to the affected areas rather than risk widespread illness if harmful bacteria did manage to get into the water supply.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The most widespread boil-water order since Hurricane Katrina has been issued for the east bank of New Orleans, affecting more than 300,000 people.
Robert Jackson, director of community and intergovernmental relations for the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans, told The Associated Press on Saturday that the order was issued after a mechanical and electrical failure at a water treatment plant caused pressure to drop.
He said the order is precautionary, but residents should be prepared to boil all water for cooking and other uses until at least Sunday night. He says no one has been sickened by the water, but officials are still testing the water to ensure no bacteria formed while the pressure was down.
The area includes the city’s French Quarter and Lower 9th Ward areas. ( source )
No matter where you live, and what type of water you have (i.e. tap water or well water), the threat of bacteriological contamination will always exist. More so for people who have well water due to the stringent testing requirements followed by public water treatment facilities, but still, since miles of piping exist between the water plant and most people’s faucets, the risk of accidental contamination does exist for folks on city/municipal water systems.
Easy ways to test for bacteria in drinking water?
No home drinking water test kit takes the place of testing performed by a certified water testing lab, but spot checking with home drinking water test kit allows homeowners to keep an eye on the quality of their water between lab tests… at an affordable cost.
Companies such as WaterSafe and SenSafe manufacture simple test kits for coliform bacteria in drinking water that pretty much anyone can use and get results they can trust.