The Louisiana Department of Health issues a recreational water advisory for the Bouge Chitto River in St. Tammany Parish after a levee breach at the Brookhaven, Mississippi sewage plant released six million gallons of storm water diluted sewage.
State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry says the Department of Environment Quality is testing the water, but people should stay out of the river.
“But out of an abundance of caution, we’ve certainly got the word out to people that if they go swimming, especially if they have a cut or swallow the water, they are at a higher risk of getting an infection.”
Guidry warns people that microorganisms can enter the body through the mouth, nose, eyes, ears and open wounds. He says it will take at least a week to know exactly what we’re dealing with as the contamination travels through the entire length of the river.
“It’s sewage with runoff, so it’s diluted with rainwater but it was millions of gallons, so it was certainly a substantial amount of bacteria coming from that sewage.”
Guidry advises people not to swim near drainage pipes and avoid ingesting water. He says the levee breach has now been fixed.
“They’ve told us that it’s under control, it was actually the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality that notified our department here in Louisiana so they’re testing the river and we’re testing the river, as well.”