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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Inspector General
At a Glance
March 7, 2006
Why We Did This Review
This review was conducted in
conjunction with the
President's Council on Integrity
and Efficiency as part of its
examination of relief efforts
provided by the Federal
Government in the aftermath of
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
We conducted this evaluation
to assess the Environmental
Protection Agency's (EPA's)
and Louisiana's efforts to
ensure that the public was
provided with safe drinking
water after Katrina.
On August 29, 2005, Hurricane
Katrina, a Category 3 hurricane
on the Saffir-Simpson scale,
devastated parts of Louisiana
and rendered many drinking
water systems inoperable. By
August 31, 2005, the Louisiana
Department of Health and
Hospitals issued boil order
advisories for 15 parishes
affected by the hurricane.
For further information,
contact our Office of
Congressional and Public
Liaison at (202) 566-2391.
To view the full report,
click on the following link:
Catalyst for Improving the Environment
EPA's and Louisiana's Efforts to Assess and Restore
Public Drinking Water Systems after Hurricane Katrina
What We Found
Our review indicated that the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals and
drinking water systems operators provided the public with timely and accurate
information about the safety and proper treatment of drinking water. According
to EPA staff, 59,260 drinking water flyers were distributed in parishes affected
by the hurricane. Two publications related to drinking water protection, What to
Do after the Flood and Emergency Disinfection of Drinking Water, were
published in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese.
Louisiana's process for determining the safety of drinking water appeared
adequate to support the determinations made. EPA Region 6 provided critical
assistance to Louisiana in making these determinations. This assistance included
assessing water systems, collecting and analyzing drinking water samples, and
providing information to the public about drinking water quality. Disease
monitoring after Hurricane Katrina indicated that drinking water supplies were
not a source of bacteriological infection. Neither EPA, the Louisiana Department
of Health and Hospitals, nor local water system operators we spoke with had
identified or heard of occurrences of waterborne illnesses or diseases from
drinking contaminated water in the 2 months following Hurricane Katrina.
With assistance from EPA and others, the Louisiana Department of Health and
Hospitals had assessed the operational capacity of 600 public water systems in
areas affected by the hurricane by September 20, 2005, and all systems by the
end of October 2005. While there has been considerable progress in assessing
the operational status of 1,591 drinking water systems in Louisiana and bringing
damaged facilities back on-line, substantial work remains to restore the drinking
water infrastructure to pre-Katrina conditions. Louisiana officials are in the
process of tabulating the estimated cost of replacements and repairs. The most
recent public water system recovery estimates for Hurricane Katrina are about
$380 million. Three of the four water systems in our study account for
approximately $360 million of this estimate.
Our review did not identify any conditions requiring corrective actions and no
recommendations are made.