The Louisiana Department of Health recently awarded $3.25 million to Iberville Parish Water System through the state's Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund Program.
"It is imperative that all Louisiana residents have access to safe drinking water, and this program helps ensure that communities have a source of affordable financing so their water system facilities benefit from the latest technology," said LDH Office of Public Health Assistant Secretary Clayton Williams.
Iberville Parish will use the funds to purchase a new 400,000-gallon elevated water tank, pipeline improvements, a new booster pump station, and for the repair and painting of existing ground water tanks. The purpose of the project is to allow the system, which serves more than 5,000 people, to meet the increased demands expected over the next 20 years.
Iberville parish officials say the much-needed improvements will ensure that residents have uninterrupted service on the east bank of the Mississippi River during storms, droughts and power outages."We're doubling our water storage capacity which will also provide ample water supply for firefighters," said Iberville Waterworks District 2 President Bob Hornstein.
The Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund's base loan program provided approximately $1.3 million of the Iberville Parish loan, while the remaining $1.95 million was funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, of which $975,000 was provided in the form of principal forgiveness.
Congress established state Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund programs in 1996 as part of the amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act. The program provides loans to water systems to make needed improvements. As the system pays back the loans, the principal and interest are used to make more money available for other communities that have drinking water improvement needs.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act added $27.6 million to Louisiana's Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund in April 2009. At least half of the funding awarded by ARRA must be used to provide assistance in the form of additional subsidization, including forgiveness of loan principal, to municipalities or water systems. Projects that may be funded with these dollars could include new water well installation, or the replacement or addition of water distribution lines, water storage tanks, water meters, and/or water treatment facilities.
The ARRA stipulates that the state's money must be under contract for construction by February 17, 2010. An additional requirement of the stimulus money is that 20 percent of the total funds, or $5.5 million, must be used for projects or portions of projects for energy efficiency, water efficiency, "green" infrastructure or environmentally innovative projects. These projects may include energy efficient retrofits and upgrades to pumps and treatment processes, leak detection, the production of clean power for treatment systems on site (wind, solar, hydroelectric, geothermal, etc.), automated water meter reading systems and other "green" equipment or appliances.
The Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund program is jointly funded by an annual grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (80 percent) and individual participating states (20 percent). It is administered in Louisiana by the LDH Office of Public Health. Loans made through this program are low-interest and have a maximum 20-year repayment period. All water systems are eligible to apply for loans: public or privately owned community systems, or non-profit, non-community systems. 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.
Applications can be downloaded at http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov/offices/page.asp?id=203&detail=7688. Please submit applications to the Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund Program, LDH-OPH, P.O. Box 4489, Baton Rouge, La., 70821. More information is also available with the Office of Public Health's Web site, http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov/offices/?ID=203.
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 http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov.