As Flint grapples with its own massive water contamination scandal, citizens in the small town of St. Joseph, Louisiana are crying out for some national media attention as they are forced to bathe in and drink brown, chalky H2O.
According to NPR, the quaint historical town has been battling the rust-colored water for decades now, but they have only just received any consideration from the national media this past week.
“It’s just a given fact that at some point during the week, you’re going to have brown or yellow water,” says resident Garrett Boyte.
— Amanda (@mandatheresa) January 23, 2016
The town has mostly been under a “boil notice” since 2012, meaning residents are encouraged to boil water before drinking. However according to the Department of Health and Hospitals, water samples from the town met the Environmental Protection Agency’s minimal quality standards despite the color variation.
“When you look at it, it looks like sludge. It doesn’t look like something you want to put in your body” – Jimmy Guidry, Louisiana state health officer, on the water in St. Joseph.
A spokesperson from the health department said that the problem likely stems from problems with the city’s pipe structure and it is unclear if St. Joseph residents are facing anything like the severity of contamination that Flint, Michigan is experiencing.
“Most of their issues seem to be around pipes that are 90 years old and are constantly being repaired,” says Jimmy Guidry, Louisiana’s state health officer. “Like most small water systems, when you don’t have many customers, it’s very expensive and it’s not affordable, but they have to do so because right now there’s risk of worse things than color.”
City officials said they were allocated $6 million in funds for fixing the water system. However, bureaucratic delays have kept the funds from reaching their intended goal.
A White House petition has been circulating through local social media channels calling on President Barack Obama to declare a state of emergency. There are currently about 3,500 signatures. It needs 100,000 by February 19.