This week, the Department of Health and Hospitals' Office of Public Health awarded $3 million to the Waterworks District No. 3 of Beauregard Parish through the State's Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund Program (DWRLF). The loan will help the system improve and update the community's drinking water system.
Assistant Secretary of Public Health, J.T. Lane said it's imperative that all Louisiana Residents have access to safe drinking water. "This program gives local communities a source of dependable and affordable financing to bring their water treatment facilities up to the latest and most modern technology that keeps their residents safe and healthy."
"This is great, because these improvements are needed in the area served by Waterworks District No. 3," said Beauregard Parish Police Jury President Llewellyn "Biscuit" Smith. "This is one of the fastest growing areas in the state of Louisiana. In just the past 10 years, it's grown 35 percent."
"We're excited about the opportunity to bring our water system into the 21st century with upgrades that promise to improve water service, while saving taxpayers thousands of dollars," said Ray Hauser, Beauregard Waterworks General Manager.
Waterworks District No. 3 of Beauregard will use the money for many improvements including a new above ground water storage tank that will provide the community with a water reserve. The system will also replace aging water lines and install new pump motors and flow meters, which will help increase water pressure while improving the system's energy and water efficiency.
Congress established State Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund Programs in 1996 as part of the amendments to 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). In Louisiana, it is administered by LDH's Office of Public Health. The FY 2011 Drinking Water Capitalization Grant allowed for additional subsidy in the form of principal forgiveness of up to 30 percent of the loan principal, with a cap of $1,125,000 of principal forgiveness per project. Through this special provision, the DWRLF is providing principal forgiveness in the amount of $900,000.
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.
"These improvements assist the systems in complying with the Safe Drinking Water Act and protecting public health," said Jennifer Wilson, program manager for the State's Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund.
For more information about the program, contact Jennifer Wilson at LDH's Office of Public Health, 225-342-7499.