Abita Springs is asking the Louisiana Office of Community Development for a $30,000 Community Water Enrichment Fund grant to help improve the taste of the town’s public water supply.

The town’s motto, “Where nature performs miracles,” is based in large part on its historically pristine water quality, but when the town installed a new water chlorination system several years ago to comply with new state water quality standards, residents began complaining that they could taste the chlorine in their tap water.

In early 2017, the complaints became so bad Mayor Greg Lemons brought in John Williams, state Health Department deputy chief of field operations, to inspect the system and recommend improvements.

At a public meeting that March, Williams said the taste of chlorine should not be present in a properly chlorinated water supply. He suggested the uneven distribution of chlorine in the Abita system was to blame for the complaints.

Lemons promised that the town would consult further with Williams and take whatever action was necessary to solve the problem.

Lemons now says the solution is to add a second chlorine injection point to the water supply, and to loop the town’s water lines. He says the two improvements will help level out the chlorine and prevent the high concentrations that cause it to be noticeable in certain areas of town.

Lemons told those attending the town council’s Nov. 27 meeting that the cost of implementing the improvements would be $70,000.

To get the ball rolling, the council adopted a resolution seeking the $30,000 Water Enrichment Fund grant, to be matched by a $15,000 allocation in the town’s 2019 budget.

From those funds, $20,000 will be used to install the second injection point, and the balance will be used to start looping the town’s water lines.

“This is all about improving the taste of the water,” Lemons said.

Elsewhere on the agenda, council members introduced two ordinances amending the town’s code of ordinances to incorporate new architectural guidelines developed by the town’s Historic District Commission.

Lemons said the underlying development requirements have not changed, but the new guidelines provide detailed illustrations of how they can be met.

The council also introduced Lemons’ proposed budget for the 2019 calendar year. The budget documents are available for inspection on the town website, townofabitasprings.com.

Public hearings on all three ordinances will be held at the council’s Dec. 18 meeting.

At the beginning of the meeting, Lemons named Jo Kieffer the town’s Volunteer of the Year for 2018.

Accepting the award to loud applause, Kieffer said, “I do this because I like helping people. I like making people smile. I like doing things for people. It’s just the way I am.”