Water expert advises citizens about Bossier City water issues

Robert Bowcock with Integrated Resource Management, held a public meeting Tuesday night at the VFW Hall on Jeter Street in Bossier City to share his insight on the city’s water situation and answer the community’s questions. (Stacey Tinsley/Press-Tribune)

By Stacey Tinsley, stinsley@bossierpress.com

A public meeting Tuesday night was held to discuss Bossier City’s water quality with a water expert sent on behalf of Environmentalist Erin Brockovich.

Robert Bowcock with Integrated Resource Management, held a public meeting Tuesday night at the VFW Hall on Jeter Street in Bossier City to share his insight on the city’s water situation and answer the community’s questions.

The meeting was held 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.

“The purpose of the meeting is to properly inform everyone what happened, what’s going on, and how the city can prevent this from happening again,” said Bowcock. “You’re the consumers, these are your drinking water systems. And it is important that you start to understand that and take ownership and help your community’s elected officials make those decisions for you.”

Bowcock says that his group is still getting complaints from consumers about the odors associated with the high doses of chlorine. Since arriving in Bossier, he added the water has smelled “like a swimming pool.”

“I intend to, whether the city accepts it or not, write a letter of recommendation specifically outlining the steps that we talk about tonight, what they can do to make change,” he said. “Change needs to happen. This is unacceptable.”

He told the audience that he has personally been to other communities around the nation that do not have state of the art water systems that Bossier has.

“You already have a state of the art $81 million dollar water drinking plant in this community…It’s about conveying the truth to your consumer and doing the right thing,” says Bowcock.

He says that Bossier needs to use its water treatment plant, built in 2014, to its full ability. He also advised that the city needed to return to using free chlorine.

He also advised the audience to ask elected officials if they have been testing for tis trihalomethanes (TTHMs) during the chlorine burn.

“When you smell chlorine like I have in your community, that disinfectant in clean drinking water doesn’t smell. You can actually inhale more of these toxins in a 5-minute hot shower then can you can drink water in a month.”

Bowcock advised residents to inform themselves and attend city council meetings and ask questions to demand corrective measures and offered a resolution.

“You can start going informed to your city council, you can write emails, you can write letters. I intend to write a report to your mayor writing what I found. And I found some very interesting things. But I think the most important thing you need to understand is you actually do have the power,” he said. “You don’t have to have the chlorine burn again. There is no reason why you have to have the chlorine burn again, ever.”

Bowcock fielded questions from the community during the meeting. Some of those included:

  • Is it helping using a water filter? Yes. I would change out (a water pitcher filter) once a month, (appliances) once a quarter on average. Also, after a chlorine flush, go to your water heater, put a hose on on hose bib and flush your water heater and change your filters.
  • Why is the city trying to keep everything “hush, hush?” It’s not unique to Bossier City. It’s in the culture.
  • Is it safer to shower or take a bath? If you’re pregnant, don’t shower. Do not use a dishwasher. Bathe in warm water but let it cool off first. When you do bathe, have a window open. Basically, you want the steam to go outside.
  • Have you seen the actual contract with the contractor or consultant with the city of Bossier? I have not seen the full blown contract. I don’t have a healthy relationship with the city staff right now. It’s not negative or positive, they just aren’t returning my phone calls. The contractor that I find interesting is they were an engineering consulting firm, predominantly in Louisiana. That engineering firm got very friendly with Bossier City and convinced them to contract with them as the operator of the water and wastewater system.
  • How is the amoeba getting in the water? It’s in the river. I saw hatches from some of your drinking water reservoirs under water. So that’s one way on how amoeba can get into you drinking water system. Until you fix the entire distribution system and the treatment plant, it’s going to happen again. You are basically under utilizing millions dollars of equipment.
  • Who do we call to complain about getting things done? The mayor.