Mar 18, 2011 11:38 PM by Shawn Kline
The water supply in part of St. Landry Parish is being tested for arsenic.
It comes after one person became ill and doctors say found high levels of the toxin in her body, as well as in the water supply. However, residents say nothing is being done about it.
"I cannot go out and buy bottled water." Melville resident Verda Lee says, "I'm on a fixed income."
Tests show her water supply has dangerous levels of arsenic; more than five times the amount found in drinking water.
Sabrina Ellis is the V.P. for St. Landry Parish Water District 5, which oversees the Krotz Springs - Melville area.
Ellis says the highest levels of arsenic are found on Kim Drive in Melville.
"All of your land owners are responsible: they drilled shallow wells," Lee says.
Lee lives on Kim Drive herself. Her water supply has more than five times the safe amount of arsenic.
Tests show the water is only affected in areas with backyard shallow-drilled wells.
The towns of Krotz Springs and Melville are unaffected because they are supplied with town water.
However, how the arsenic flooded the well supply is still up for debate.
"I don't know if theres any rhyme or reason to where it might be." DHH Engineer Jake Causey says, "but we do know it is there."
The Department of Health and Hospitals says a small amount of arsenic is not toxic. However, at levels seen on Kim Drive, the water can be dangerous to drink and even cook with.
"Most of the risk with arsenic is through digestion," Causey said.
"I called Bobby Jindals office, I called the health unit, I called a representative." A frustrated Verda Lee says, "I called everybody I can think of."
Residents of Kim Drive now begging for clean water- but until that comes, Lee says she'll use what she has: well water with high levels of arsenic.
"I'm not asking for a million dollars." Lee says, "I'm asking for water."
Lee may get her wish. Water District 5 is hoping for a grant to use water from Krotz Springs and after this arsenic scare, the DHH is supporting the project.
However, Water District officials say it would take at least a year until a steady supply of clean water flows into the neighborhood.
Residents say they plan to take this problem to St. Landry Parish Council in the hopes that the Parish will declare a state of emergency in the neighborhood.