Baton Rouge – The Department of Health Office of Public Health has awarded a $2.8 million loan to the Lafayette Parish Waterworks District North Water System to help the community improve its drinking water. The loan was completed last Thursday, June 3.
“When the Lafayette Parish Waterworks District North uses this money to improve its water system, the result will be improved drinking water for its customers,” said LDH Secretary Dr. Fred Cerise. “The money will be used to expand and improve the existing distribution system, including eliminating dead ends, correcting pressure problems, and incorporating several subdivisions, individuals who currently use private wells, and mobile home parks,” he added.
The Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund Program administered by DHH’s Office of Public Health provides the funds. Congress established this fund in 1996 as part of the amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act.
Louisiana and other states are eligible to receive annual federal grants from EPA as long as the states provide the necessary matching funds of 20 percent. Upon approval of the loans, communities borrow from the fund. The principal and interest that are paid back to the fund allow more money to become available for other communities that have drinking water problems. These loans are approved on a priority system. Projects that address the most serious risks to human health and projects to ensure compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act are given highest priority.
Loans made through this program are low interest and have a maximum 20-year repayment period. The systems eligible for the program are public and privately owned community systems and nonprofit, non-community water systems.
“The purpose of the fund is to provide states with a financial mechanism to make loans to drinking water systems for infrastructure improvements. These improvements assist the systems in complying with the Safe Drinking Water Act and protect public health,” said T. J. Ray, program manager for the Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund.
Sharon Howard, assistant secretary for the Office of Public Health, said it is imperative that all Louisiana residents have access to safe drinking water.
“This program helps ensure that communities have a source of dependable and affordable funding so that their water treatment facilities may benefit from the latest and most modern technology,” she said.
Harold Hebert, president of the Lafayette Waterworks, said he is pleased to accept the loan on behalf of the water system.
“Our goal is to provide the citizens of Lafayette with the best drinking water we can, and this loan will allow us to do that,” Hebert said. “We are very grateful to receive such a substantial amount of funding, and appreciate that the Department of Health can assist through their Drinking Water Revolving Loan Program. Without this source of funding, it would be difficult for us to take on a project of such magnitude. We are happy we will be able to provide a higher quality of water and to better serve our customers.”
For more information about the program, please contact T. J. Ray at the Office of Public Health, 225-765-5075.