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Baton Rouge – The Department of Health – Office of Public Health has awarded a $925,000 loan to Point Wilhite Water System, Inc. in Union Parish. The loan will help the system improve the community’s drinking water.

The loan was closed Monday, Feb. 18. The loan amount will be used to construct a new 150,000-gallon elevated storage tank, install a new drinking water well, rehabilitate an existing booster station and install electrical controls needed to operate the modified system.

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).

It is administered by DHH’s Office of Public Health.

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 protect public health," said T. Jay Ray, program manager for the Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund.

Alan Levine, secretary for Department of Health and Hospitals, 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 their water treatment facilities may benefit from the latest and most modern technology," he said.

For more information about the program, contact T. Jay Ray at DHH’s Office of Public Health, 225-342-8355.