Boil water orders in the region were issued for three reasons: (1) if the well was flooded (primary reason), (2) if the well casing was compromised, or (3) if the pump was reprimed with poor quality water. In general, boil water orders in the Lake Charles area were issued for community systems that lost pressure. Loss of pressure may have occurred when power was lost or when emergency generators ran out of fuel. Power was restored to some of the region within three days, although other parts of the region are still without power. In general, the community water systems immediately went to backup generators. Non-community systems typically did not have generators.
Following Rita, Calcasieu and Cameron Parishes were under mandatory evacuation. Residents were not allowed in to Calcasieu Parish until power and potable water service was restored. Testing of water from private wells began two weeks after Rita. An EPA mobile lab stationed in Kinder, LA performed presence/absence tests. Calcasieu Parish generated about five samples per day from private wells and about 5-7 samples per day from public water supplies. The parish has few private wells, most of which are located in South Lake Charles and most of which were not flooded. Vermillion Parish, which has more private wells, generated about 100-110 samples per day. In Cameron Parish, the distribution systems in Hackberry and Grand Lake were not affected. As described in the City of Cameron report, the rest of Cameron Parish was destroyed completely.
Emergency personnel generally used imported water. FEMA disaster medical personnel and Calcasieu Sherriff’s Office personnel used bottled water. Emergency crews stationed at a worker camp in Cameron (“Camp Cameron”) used water bladders.
Regarding wastewater treatment, private wastewater systems (oxidation ponds, mechanical systems etc.) likely were flooded. This apparently led to sewer odor problems in Lake Charles.
Regarding solid waste issues, 900,000 cubic yards of debris have been removed to date from Calcasieu Parish.
Submitted by Pavani Ram and James Jensen
October 22, 2005