Mar 23, 2011 11:54 PM by Shawn Kline
An arsenic scare outside Melville nearly caused St. Landry Parish to declare a state of emergency.
As we told you last week, more than 100 residents found high levels of arsenic in their water.
Wednesday night, parish and state officials say they've found a solution but residents say more can be done.
"This is the closest we've come... to being called a disaster area." Resident Paul Burleigh says, "and the (Parish President) says he can't do it."
"I could've signed the paper work," St. Landry Parish President Don Menard admitted, "but it doesn't speed up the funding process."
Residents like Burleigh are asking for emergency funding to bring water from Krotz Springs to his neighborhood outside Melville.
"Unfortunately, the funding is just not there," Menard said.
More than 150 people outside Melville found elevated levels of arsenic in their well water. In some cases, five or six times what's considered to be safe.
"The cumulative effects of drinking toxic water, we don't know them," State Senator Elbert Guillory said.
"It's a peculiar situation." Menard added, "because it's dealing with private water wells."
President Menard and Senator Guillory say they've found a short term fix: reallocating parish funds to buy water trailers for these residents until a permanent line is built (which may not happen until 2012).
They say the trailers will be filled by the Krotz Springs Fire Department and residents who have arsenic-tainted water in the area can fill-up for free.
Menard was unable to address how long this band-aid will hold. St. Landry Parish and the USDA are supporting a grant to build a permanent water line from Krotz Springs to the area surrounding Kim Drive (where arsenic has been found to affect the most people).
However at this time, Water District officials say the USDA would not have the funding for the grant until October. Even then, their budget may change due to federal and state budget cuts.
In the mean time, doctors say arsenic at this level isn't deadly; but Paul Burleigh says he's not taking any chances.
"That ain't what i've been hearing all my life." Burleigh says, "that's why they put it in rat poison!"
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