Response to Hurricane Katrina
Boil Drinking Water
EPA continues to send personnel and resources to the affected areas in anticipation of upcoming needs when hurricane damage may begin to be addressed. Since the start of EPA's deployment, more than 134 Incident Responses have been conducted by EPA and US Coast Guard (USCG). Current activities are listed below.
MS Assessment Teams
Western MS Division Assessment teams continue to respond and investigate reports and requests in the Gulfport area and west to the Louisiana State line. The Eastern MS Division Assessment teams continue to respond and investigate reports and requests in the Pascagoula, Moss Point and Biloxi area. Both divisions are comprised of EPA, USCG, MS Department of Environmental Quality and contractors.
AL Assessment Teams
The Assessment Teams will continue to conduct assessments and oversight clean up efforts in the areas of: Bayou Labatre, City of Mobile, Mobile Co.and Baldwin Co. They will also assist with assessments in Pascagoula, Moss Point, Biloxi, and Gulfport. Assessment teams are now comprised of EPA, ADEM and USCG and contractors.
Water Division Assistance Team
An EPA Water Division Assistance Team is continuing its assessment of damage to local drinking water systems in MS and providing technical assistance to help restore safe drinking water to those systems. EPA Region 4 will deploy a mobile lab to assist the MS Department of Public Health with analytical support of drinking water systems at Camp Shelby, near Hattiesburg. Another mobile lab provided by the Florida Department of Health will be set up in Pascagoula. Due to the possibility of extensive damage to their distribution systems, many drinking water facilities will be conducting long-term repairs. MS is currently assessing approximately 1367 public water systems across the state and has sent out an assessment team to travel south nearer to the coast to conduct site visits to systems that could not be contacted. Boil water notices have been issued to 468 water systems in MS, including the southernmost counties of Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, Pearl River, Stone and George. Samples from all of these systems will be analyzed for total coliform bacteria before the systems can restore safe drinking water to the communities they serve.
Community water systems across AL have been disabled or impaired by loss of electrical power, though most are now operational, but waiting for test results to ensure the water is restored to standards safe for community consumption. 8 AL systems currently have boil water advisories.
Due to systems being impaired or disabled, EPA reminds citizens in affected areas to follow "boil water" advisories in place. For more information, please read the "Boil Drinking Water" Alert on the Region 4 hurricane web page at http://epa.gov/region4/Katrina/index.htm .
Many wastewater facilities are also without power or operating on partial power. 94 MS wastewater facilities were contacted to assess their status, but more than half of the facilities could not be reached or have no status. Efforts are ongoing to get these facilities on emergency power or fully operational, but like the drinking water facilities, some have sustained extensive damage and will be conducting long-term repairs before they can operate at regular capacity.
EPA will release information from the environmental assessments as it becomes available. Reporters should contact the EPA Press Office at (404) 562-8327 for interviews and additional information.