A system that serves hundreds of thousands of people in Louisiana has been failing for more than two years, and it’s up to the governor to fix it, according to a letter sent Thursday by Gov.
John Bel Edwards to the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.
“We know that your drinking water systems are not meeting the high standards set by the state of Louisiana,” the governor wrote in the letter to the state’s top health official.
The state is currently grappling with a severe water shortage.
Edwards also requested an update on the status of the state-owned and operated Louisiana Water and Power, which supplies the state with drinking water, and he asked that it be upgraded to a public utility.
The letter comes as the state faces another drought and a spike in the number of deaths linked to lead poisoning.
On Thursday, the state health department warned that more than 300,000 children and teenagers have been poisoned by lead poisoning since 2011.
Edwards and his allies in the state legislature have also been working to make the state water system more sustainable.
They have pushed to increase the state cap on the amount of water it can hold to 100 million acre-feet (18 billion gallons).
The cap is expected to be raised again in 2019, but this time to 100 billion acre-foot (18.4 billion gallons), according to state data.
Edwards is expected in Louisiana for a special legislative session to consider a new water bill.
But the governor’s office did not respond to requests for comment Thursday.
The drought is a major concern in Louisiana, which has been hit by extreme weather events like the deadly flooding of the Baton Rouge river in May.