Dow agrees to help protect Plaquemine water supplies

Deidre Cruse, Governmental Reporter

Dow Chemical Company has agreed to help secure Plaquemine's water supplies in the event of vinyl chloride contamination of the aquifer that runs under its property.

Dow start immediately, in the first quarter of this year, by paying to replace the carbon and sand beds that currently filter the drinking water of 13,000 consumers.

The company made the commitment in a “memorandum of understanding” that the Plaquemine Board of Selectmen approved at its meeting last week.

“If we would take a hit, Dow would come in to help us take care of the problem,” Mayor Mark A. “Tony” Gulotta said of the agreement that he said has been in negotiations for some time.

“I want to assure everyone in Plaquemine the water is safe,” the mayor said. “It is probably the most tested groundwater in the State of Louisiana...If we would have a problem, we would have a contingency plan in place.”

Plaquemine uses high quality water from a deeper aquifer at Port Allen for its primary water supplies, and water from the Plaquemine aquifer as a back up, Gulotta said.

“Sentinel wells” were installed at sites around the city to test the water from the Plaquemine aquifer about a decade ago after vinyl chloride contamination appeared in the well water supply of a trailer park north of the city.

Water the sentinel wells is tested regularly to reveal any contamination by vinyl chloride or its precursors before the water reaches the city's treatment plant.

“A hit on the sentinel wells would trigger the agreement,” Gulotta said. “This is what [the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency] asked us to have in place.”?