Tulane University to study water quality in Louisiana following Hurricane Ida

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Tulane University researchers will begin a study of how pollutants from flooding caused by Hurricane Ida may have affected groundwater and water systems in south Louisiana.

Researchers say Louisiana and other coastal states face hazards like hurricanes which can expose groundwater and water systems to chemical or microbial contaminants that may cause serious problems to public health.

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Associate professor of environmental health sciences at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Samendra Sherchan, will lead a team collecting water samples at more than 150 sites in Houma, LaPlace, Slidell and other areas over the next six months.

The goal of the study is to gain a better understanding of the impacts extreme flooding may have on water quality.

Ida made landfall as a Category 4 storm near Port Fourchon, Louisiana, on August 29, bringing coastal storm surges, heavy rainfall and catastrophic flooding in many rural areas in Southern Louisiana.

"Such large-scale flooding has the potential to transport chemical agents and microbial pathogens and contaminate groundwater,” Sherchan said. “This project is a time-sensitive and unique opportunity to collect perishable data and improve understanding of the extent of contamination in floodwaters from inland areas to groundwater. A lot of these cities close to Louisiana have manufacturing and chemical facilities, so there’s a possibility that water could have been contaminated during the storm.”

The study is funded by a grant from The National Science Foundation.