Baton Rouge – The Department of Health recently awarded a $6.5 million loan to the Louisiana Water Company (LAWCO) located in several parishes throughout Louisiana. Provided through the State’s Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund, the funding will help the water company improve drinking water infrastructure in the community water systems they operate.
In addition to the loan, the Fiscal Year 2016 Drinking Water Capitalization Grant allowed for additional subsidies in the form of principal forgiveness of $500,000.
The community systems that will benefit from this funding include New Iberia, Crowley, Eunice, Dequincy, Mansura and Lecompte.
The loan was closed in March, and the funding will be used to provide the residents and customers of each of the water systems with a reliable source of quality potable water for consumption and to comply with EPA’s Primary and Secondary standards for drinking water. Secondary standards are not enforceable but set by the EPA for aesthetic considerations, such as taste, color and odor.
Proposed improvements are as follows:
- New Iberia (Iberia Parish) system: Add a new well and make upgrades to the clarifier and treatment plant.
- Crowley (Acadia Parish) system: The system proposes to make improvements to the existing filter system, the ground storage tank and the distribution system.
- Eunice (St. Landry Parish) system: Includes plans to install a new well with improvements to their elevated tank and distribution system.
- DeQuincy (Calcasieu Parish) system: Proposing distribution system improvements and the purchase of a generator.
- Mansura (Avoyelles Parish) system: Planning improvements to the distribution system.
- LeCompte (Rapides Parish) system: Proposing to make improvements to their elevated storage tank.
"The low interest money that is available from this loan allows us to accelerate improvements to these six water systems and continue to provide our customers with clean drinking water,” said Billy Edrington, LAWCO president. “Without the loan, these improvements might not get done, or they would take us much more time to complete.”
Congress established State Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund Programs in 1996 as part of the Safe Drinking Water Act. The program is jointly funded by an annual grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (80 percent) and the individual participating states (20 percent). It is administered by LDH’s Office of Public Health. The FY 2016 Drinking Water Capitalization Grant allowed for additional subsidy in the form of principal forgiveness of up to 20 percent of the loan principal, with a cap of $500,000 of principal forgiveness per project.
Loans made through this program are low interest and have a maximum 20-year repayment period. Both public and privately-owned community and nonprofit, non-community water systems are eligible to apply for loans.
Once a loan is approved, water systems can use the funds to make their improvements. As the systems pay back the loans, the principal and interest are used to make more money available for other communities that have drinking water needs. All loan projects are approved based upon a priority ranking system. Among other factors, projects that address the most serious risks to human health and those that ensure compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act are given the highest priority.
“The purpose of the fund is to provide states with a financial mechanism to make below market rate loans to drinking water systems for infrastructure improvements. These improvements assist the systems in complying with the Safe Drinking Water Act and protecting public health,” said Jennifer Wilson, program manager for the Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund.
For more information about the program, contact Jennifer Wilson at LDH's Office of Public Health, 225-342-7499.
The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens. To learn more about LDH, visit www.ldh.louisiana.gov. For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow LDH's Twitter account, Facebook and Blog.