The tap water in one Lafayette Parish neighborhood is still contaminated with unlawful levels of arsenic as Lakeview Estates residents wait for a new parish line to to provide cleaner water.
The legal limit for arsenic in drinking water is 10 parts per billion. Louisiana's average is 0.8 ppb, but in Lakeview Estates, it's 16.6 ppb, according to a database released Wednesday by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group.
Consuming arsenic has been linked to multiple forms of cancer and can also cause vomiting, diarrhea, partial paralysis and blindness, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. It is a naturally occurring substance that can leach out of rocks, and it's also used in chemical processes and produced from mining, burning coal and other activities.
The amount of arsenic in the Lakeview Estates water hasn't changed, said Bill Schoening, CEO of Total Environmental Solutions Inc., which owns and operates the water well and system. The system is out of compliance because EPA imposed stricter standards beginning in 2006, when water providers had to comply with the 10 ppb maximum instead of 50 ppb.
Other systems in south Louisiana fared better with arsenic levels. For example, the amount in Baton Rouge Water Company samples was 0.04 ppb.
TESI operated five systems with unacceptable arsenic levels and is in the process of turning them over to Lafayette Parish Waterworks District North. Lakeview Estates will be the last to change hands.
Work has begun to build a pipe to the neighborhood, and Waterworks District Chief Administrative Officer Byron Guillory said he hopes the construction will be completed by the end of the year.