Our Past, Present, and Future

 

Have you ever thought about who provides the water for the many things we enjoy doing every day?  Or, how the water service we enjoy is provided?  Or how that water service is a part of our continued growth in the Baton Rouge and surrounding areas and a part of the Class 1 Fire Protection we depend on?  The who and the how?  The Baton Rouge Water Company.

The Baton Rouge Water Company draws water from over 100 deep wells ranging in depth from 600 to 2800 feet.  The water supply enters the ground near the area of Vicksburg, Mississippi and is called the Southern Hills Aquifer.  The water moves through sand and rock, eventually reaching Baton Rouge where it is drawn off by these wells.

Although everything that happens on a daily basis to keep the water flowing is too much to cover in this informational report, let’s discuss a few interesting activities and facts about your water company.

Let’s start with the product itself – water.

Water has been on the face of the earth since the beginning of time.  80% of the earth is covered with water – yet only 1% is fit for drinking. Part of that 1% is found in sand aquifers, finding itself there through the process of the water cycle we see as rain.  The water travels 140 miles through rock and sand formations to Baton Rouge.  It’s a long process.  Actually, the water we drink today fell to earth as rain approximately 2000 years ago!

Our wells are strategically placed throughout Baton Rouge, and we drill into these sand aquifers and draw out the water.  However, we do not place any wells south of the Baton Rouge fault line due to the potential of salt water intrusion.

Because of this, we pump the water you use through our distribution systems of pipes ranging from 1 inch to 36 inches in diameter in order to service our customers, both north and south of the fault line.  That’s over a half of a million people!

The company owns, operates, and maintains over 1300 miles of main lines.  These main lines stretch from Baton Rouge and throughout East Baton Rouge Parish and Ascension Parish.

There’s a lot of work to be done from reading the meters, billing and receiving, creating new services, to maintaining those service lines and equipment. 

But imagine maintaining the system and providing water to our customers during a wide-spread power outage . . .  due to a hurricane or ice storm!  We do that!

After Hurricane Katrina, the company invested millions of dollars for large diesel generators.  The generators were placed at strategically-chosen well sites to ensure that - should a storm hit our service area as directly as Katrina hit New Orleans - our customers would not lose water service.

And, as you may know, only three years later, Hurricane Gustav did just that.  The vast majority of our service area lost electricity for over 10 days.  With our pumps running on diesel-generated electricity, we were able to maintain a safe clean water supply to our customers throughout the storm and its aftermath.

Our employees work around the clock during storms, such as Katrina and Gustav.  Water is necessary to life for our customers, but most people rarely think about whether water will be there when they turn on their household faucet. 

Even during ice storms, the water continued to flow.  Unfortunately, sometimes the pipes beyond our purview are affected – they may freeze and break.  And, should that occur, our employees work 24/7 to ensure we are there to answer your calls and turn off your water so that your plumbing can be repaired.

It’s our mission to keep the supply of clean water flowing!  Our employees are at work through it all – storms and pandemics – so that the life-saving water flows.  Our employees truly are quiet heroes.

As well as keeping the water supply for our customers, we also are a large part of the city of Baton Rouge’s ability to maintain a Class 1 fire rating—water system related items make up 40 percent of the overall score.  Working hand in hand with our amazing fire departments benefits our customers with lower homeowner insurance rates.

And, in 2013, we created a one-of-a-kind well, which actually is two wells that work together to protect the future of our precious water supply. One of the wells pulls salt water from the bottom of the aquifer while the other draws freshwater from the top.  In combination, the coupled wells are slowing down salt water movement! Our experts continue to optimize the process by adjusting the pumping capacity in order to extend the life of the partnership.  The design and construction even won a prestigious award. And, while we are less concerned about winning awards than the fact that it is working very well, it is nice to be recognized.  And, it’s also nice to know that your water company continues to innovate and find workable solutions for the future.

Further, although the water we provide goes through a very effective natural purification process as it travels those 140 miles, we still treat it to exacting tolerances before sending it to our customers.  This is done through our two state certified labs and our production employees’ daily and nightly efforts.

And, how do we monitor all that water running through our distribution lines?  We have a state-of-the-art central supervisory control room that can remotely control valves and pumps as well as pressure levels and treatment levels – every day, every night, all day, all night.

And, when things do go awry, such as a broken main line or a leak occurs, our customers can call us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to report the problem.  Then, our employees will take on the problem day or night, in the heat or freezing temperatures, during the worst of a pandemic, and even during the storm (once it’s safe to do so, of course).  Pretty amazing.

We do one thing – provide water service, and we focus all our attention on it because we understand the importance of a safe, continuous supply of water.

So what other plans are in store for the future? 

  • We will continue to monitor and study our salt water well so that we can know as much as possible about the potential for salt water intrusion. 
  • We have, and hope to continue to have, extremely knowledgeable seats on the Capital Area Ground Water Commission to bring forward our mission of maintaining the water supply. 
  • We have and will continue to reinvest in the company through upgrades to infrastructure – from the pipes and meters we use to the ability to monitor the system. 
  • We have and will continue to work with the legislature to bring forth concerns about our water supply within the current confines of the law. 

Things cannot change overnight and that can be frustrating.  Change is effected over time.  What we are doing today will have lasting positive effects into the future.

We will continue with what we can do and are doing.  If you are interested in what you can do – here are a few things to weave into your lives:

  • Maintain your plumbing in good working condition.
  • Listen for running commodes and repair them.
  • Ensure you have a cut-off valve at your residence, and that you know where it is and that it works.
  • Call us when you see a leak around the meter or by the roadway.
  • Insulate your pipes and run the water furthest away from where your water supply enters your residence during a hard freeze – very slowly or for a few minutes every hour or so.

We are all in this together.  The employees of the Baton Rouge Water Company live here too.  It is of extreme importance to all of us.  Maintaining a continuous supply of clean and safe drinking water is and will continue to be our ONE GOAL.  And, that goal is encompassed in our past, present, and future.

 

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