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The area highlighted in blue in the greater Plaquemine area of Iberville Parish was put under a boil water advisory until further notice. Leaking water from broken pipes that have thawed after this weeks frigid temperatures have reduce pressure in the system and forced the advisory. 

Iberville Parish government issued a boil water advisory Thursday for nearly 2,190 customers in the Plaquemine area and expect it to last into next week, parish officials said.

Parish officials also said they will probably have to cut water service for several hours overnight Thursday and early Friday to allow the system to try to restore some of its water pressure.

Parish officials blamed the pressure loss on residential and some commercial water pipes that froze and broke in the frigid temperatures this week and then sprung leaks Wednesday and Thursday as temperatures have risen above freezing and pipes have thawed, parish officials said.

The loss in water has depleted parish storage tanks and led to the pressure drop that has forced the boil advisory for the parish Intracoastal Water System West, which is outside the city limits of Plaquemine.

The advisory applies to all customers of the parish Intracoastal Water System West, except for those on Intracoastal Road and on all streets that intersect that road. The system purifies water from the Intracoastal Canal.

The order does not affect the other parish systems, which rely on well water: the Intracoastal Water System East and another in the Grosse Tete and Rosedale areas.

Mark Migliacio, Iberville Parish director of operations, said Thursday that at least 53 primarily residential leaks have been detected and secured since midafternoon Wednesday after parish workers were first sent into the field to determine why the system began losing water pressure around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Most of the leaks were in older elevated homes or trailers with pipes exposed to the cold, though some commercial lines were also affected, Migliacio said.

"What's going on is, you know, all these little leaks are giving me big problems at my water plant," he said.

The parish had to cut water to its customers in the Intracoastal West system between 11:30 p.m. Wednesday and 4 a.m. Thursday to allow the system’s water tanks to begin refilling.

Migliacio said he expects to do the same thing Thursday night and early Friday.

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“But until everybody starts getting out and getting these leaks fixed, and until I find them, I’m going to continue to fight the system,” Migliacio said.  

Leaks have also helped prompt a boil advisory and loss of service in some parts of East Feliciana Parish. Low pressure from running water during the cold snap led St. James Parish officials to call for public conservation Tuesday and to warn about a possible cut in service for several hours to catchup, though they ended up not having to do so.

Although the National Weather Service doesn't have temperature measures for the Plaquemine area, Mississippi River communities nearby, like the Burnside area south of Gonzales and Donaldsonville, hit the low 20s and even the high teens early Tuesday morning, weather readings show.

Iberville Parish crews are cutting water service to homes that have leaks. It is the homeowner’s responsibility to fix leaks in a home, Migliacio said.

Parish workers have been unable to find any leaks on the parish system itself, though Migliacio said that low water pressure and standing water from recent heavy rain and sleet have hampered workers’ ability to detect leaks.

The boil advisory is expected to be lifted sometime next week after testing by the state Department of Health indicates that the water in the system's pipes is not contaminated, parish officials said.

Migliacio explained that one reason the boil advisory is expected to last that long is that he doesn’t want to pull samples for water quality testing until the system’s water supply has better stabilized.

If he pulls samples too soon and pressure drops again afterward, the parish would be required to issue another boil advisory and take samples again, he said.

Migliacio added that more freezing temperatures are forecast for Thursday night and early Friday.

"Tomorrow is another new day," he said.


Email David J. Mitchell at dmitchell@theadvocate.com

Follow David J. Mitchell on Twitter, @NewsieDave.