Taste testing and byproduct contamination part of Rural Water Co - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Taste testing and byproduct contamination part of Rural Water Conference

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

If you don't really notice the taste of your water - that's a good thing, according to those attending the Louisiana Rural Water Conference in Lake Charles this week. So, what else makes a good drink of water.

If there's nothing very remarkable about the water you're drinking, well that's a plus.  And some rural water districts are quite competitive about whose water is the best.

 Districts are not required to enter the yearly competition, but those that do submit samples that are evaluated by three judges here at the Louisiana Rural Water Conference.

This year Claude Swope of the Houston River Water District was one of the judges in the yearly water tasting competition.

"It's important for us because we're proud of the product we produce and it's very important to all our customers," said Swope.

They judge water based on taste, aroma, and clarity.

"You're looking for a smooth taste, not something that's going to get your attention when you take a sip of it. And it doesn't have hardly any smell.  And clarity, the clarity on all the contestants was beautiful.  Crystal clear," explains Swope.

And the winner is: St. Martin Parish Waterworks District No. 3.  Swope says it's good water that kind of reminds him of his own district's water.

"No aroma, smooth taste and the clarity was crystal clear," he says.

 Rusty Reeves with the Louisiana Rural Water Association says aesthetics are important to consumers so it's important to water professionals.

"It gives the water systems a chance to earn some bragging rights about the quality of the water that they produce for their systems.  We represent systems statewide and we encourage systems to submit samples," said Reeves.

Besides getting continuing education here, water and sewerage operators also have a chance to see the latest tools and equipment to improve public water and sewerage systems. 

Hot topics at this year's conference include what they call "disinfection byproducts."  Over recent years there has been concern about a deadly brain eating amoeba in the water, especially since has been found before in at least one rural Louisiana water system.

To prevent the possibility of anyone becoming infected, the federal government now requires that systems have a higher chlorine level than before.

But in some cases that causes disinfection byproducts that can cause cancer, Reeves says.

"According to the EPA regulations and stuff, if you drink two gallons of water a day over a 60- or 70-year period, it could cause cancer.  A few systems, that .5 residual, has caused them to have some issues with disinfection byproducts. And those systems are working with treatment processes to get in compliance."

Systems that have difficulty achieving compliance can also use alternative treatment systems. Those that have a problem must notify consumers and may have to test more often until they comply.  Some may have to use additional treatment.

For more on test results of your water system check out the State Health Department's Safe Drinking Water watch.

The LRWA's 32nd Conference wraps up Thursday.

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