Bossier officials not to engage at public meeting about water safety

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Bossier City officials are not planning to be present or engage at a public meeting tonight about the city’s water quality hosted by an associate of Erin Brockovich.

Water expert, and Erin Brockovich associate, Bob Bowcock will hold a public meeting at the VFW Hall on Jeter Street in Bossier City at 6:30 p.m. to discuss Bossier City’s water situation, followed by a question and answer session.

The meeting is in response to a Bossier City chlorine burn of its water system after one of five samples of city water tested positive for Naegleria fowleri, also known as brain-eating amoeba.

Councilman David Montgomery, Jr. told the council at their agenda meeting Tuesday afternoon that the city consulted with Jimmy Guidry, M.D., state health officer for Louisiana and DHH medical director, who said that the city is following all DHH guidelines.

“He encouraged us to maintain that course and do not engage. Our response is that we’re following all the DHH guidelines that exceed the federal guidelines, and leave it at that,” Montgomery said.

He noted that the city took a local media interview with Bowcock to Dr. Guidry who assured the city that they are doing “everything by the book.”

“We are assuring the citizens of Bossier City that their water is safe. He’s well aware of these accusations levied against the City of Bossier City and DHH, because we’re following the DHH guidelines,” Montgomery said.

City Attorney Jimmy Hall said the meeting will attempt to create hysteria among the public. When asked what the motivation is, Hall replied, “Litigation. That’s what lawyers do.”

Councilman Jeff Darby said it would be “unwise” to not have someone there to hear the “misinformation” being discussed. Montgomery said that there has been nothing new discussed from Bowcock’s first interview and the current statements and allegations.

Mayor Lo Walker added, “It’s been talked about so much on the radio that I got a pretty good feel for what their position is.”

Montgomery went on to say that after the burn ends, he will visit with Dr. Guidry and then share that info with the council.

Hall said the end result will be a new method of continuously testing the city’s water, independent of DHH tests.

“Our response to this is progressing perfectly. At the end of this we’ll have the path to do independent testing, continuously,” he said.

Montgomery noted that the issue should not be discussed any further in a public setting in order to avoid liability and future litigation.

In late September, Sligo Water System in south Bossier Parish tested positive for the amoeba. The positive water sample came from a valve that connects Sligo to the Bossier City water system.

In mid-October, the city found a positive sample in the southern portion of the city and began a chlorine burn according to DHH guidelines.

Three other water systems — the Town of Benton, Cypress Black Bayou, and Country Place Subdivision — also performed the chlorine flush because they buy water from Bossier City.

“After the announcement that the amoeba had been found in the Sligo water system, the City made the decision to move forward with a Chlorine cleanse that had originally been scheduled for Bossier City for next year. Shortly after that decision was made, while gearing up to switch disinfectants, is when we received the disturbing results that one of five samples taken by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals tested positive for the presence of the amoeba,” Bossier City Public Information Officer Traci Landry told the Press-Tribune in October.

However, environmental activist Erin Brockovich has taken aim at Bossier City for its water quality.

The legal clerk who gained national fame, sparking a movie dramatizing her involvement in a lawsuit against Pacific Gas and Electric Company, has repeatedly said Bossier City residents are being lied to about the quality and safety of their water in several Facebook posts.

Wow! Apparently, Mr. Montgomery is more concerned with litigation and liability than safety. He should have attended the informational meeting & learned a little more about what is going on.