Louisiana Drinking Water and Human Health
Louisiana has abundant supplies of safe drinking water. Ground water is the source of drinking water for 61% of the State’s residents. Of this 61%, 12% rely on domestic wells and 49% rely on public water supplies.
The major ground water supplies come from the Sparta Aquifer in North Louisiana, the Mississippi River Alluvial Aquifer, the Chicot Aquifer in Southwest Louisiana and the Southern Hills Aquifer in the Southeastern part of the state.
The state has a large number of rivers, lakes and reservoirs that are also used as public water supplies.
While Louisiana is blessed with abundant supplies of safe drinking water, it is our responsibility to maintain and protect the waters of our state. All citizens need to learn how to reduce water contamination and how to conserve water supplies.
Conditions of Your Drinking Water
The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality provides information on surface water quality. The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals provides information on drinking water quality. If your drinking water comes from a private well, it is your responsibility to have it tested. You can contact your Parish Sanitarian at your Parish Health Unit, Department of Health and Hospitals, or the Extension Service in your parish. The Parish Sanitarian can test your drinking water for a fee or some commercial labs may be able to test water samples for you.
Resources and Programs
The LSU AgCenter has six area agents in the major watersheds in Louisiana to assist citizens, organizations and groups with environmental education.
- Mimi Stoker – Northwest LA – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Gary Stockton – Northeast LA – email@example.com
- Kevin Savoie – Southwest LA – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Margaret Frey – South Central LA – email@example.com
- Thomas Hymel – South LA – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Brian LeBlanc – Southeast LA – email@example.com
The LSU AgCenter has an environmental assessment tool for home and farm owners to use in conducting self-assessments. The HOME*A*SYST books are available from each parish office or the area agents mentioned above. These programs are designed to help families assess environmental practices that may affect water quality and environmental health in and around their homes and farms.
Farm*A*Syst is a detailed self-assessment of threats from farm practices to the safety of a private water well. Assistance with a Farm*A*Syst assessment can be obtained from the LSU AgCenter.
The LSU AgCenter web address is http://www.lsuagcenter.com/. For information on Safe Drinking Water and flooding, call the EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791 or go to http://www.epa.gov/safewater/drinklink.html.
The LSU Agricultural Center, a campus of Louisiana State University and A & M College, conducts research, education and extension programs to assist federal and state agencies, municipalities, business, industry, agricultural and forest producers and processors and private citizens in protecting and preserving water quality. Research and education programs on environmental and water quality protection are also conducted in the Engineering and Environmental Science Departments at other LSU campuses.
The LSU Agricultural Center’s Cooperative Extension Service develops and delivers educational programs to all audiences in every parish of the state. These programs provide research-based information to the people of the state. Some extension educational programs addressing drinking water and human health are:
HOME*A*SYST – provides research based information to improve the home environment to protect the health of children and families. Drinking water, water well maintenance and septic system designs are part of the HOME*A*SYST Program.
PRIVATE WATER WELL TESTING – Provides a method for rural residents to have their wells tested for drinking water safety. Well owners are encouraged to have their wells tested annually for coliform bacteria and lead, if needed. Arrangements can also be made to have water tested for VOC’s (volatile organic compounds), pesticides and nitrate.
A DROP IN THE BUCKET - provides residents with the information and tools to reduce water usage. Water conservation in the home and yard is the major focus of this program.
4-H CAMP – Environmental Education Workshops and tours at 4-H Camp teach youth how watersheds work to influence the quality and quantity of water sources in Louisiana. Environmentally sound decisions are needed to maintain high quality water for drinking water sources.
College and University Education
Youth and continuing adult education are critical to develop new talent and human resources to address the water quality issues of the future. Educational curricula in drinking water and human health are available within several departments at LSU. Graduate and undergraduate programs in key departments include: