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Town's Water May Be Safe To Drink By Mardi Gras

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By Mardi Gras, residents of a Louisiana town may have a huge reason to celebrate: drinkable tapwater, for the first time in more than a year.

The Advocate reports that the new wells, pipes and other equipment have been installed in St. Joseph, and should be hooked up by Christmas.

But testing to ensure that the water is lead-free could take another six or seven weeks. If tests find lead from a building's own pipes, the owner must replace them.

And water rates will go up, in a town where nearly 40 percent of households are under the poverty line.

Even small amounts of lead can cause irreversible brain damage in children. Last December, elevated lead levels prompted the governor to issue an emergency order against using the town's water.