The Louisiana Department of Health’s Office of Public Health awarded an $800,000 loan to the Southeast Waterworks District No. 2 of Vermilion Parish through the State’s Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund. The low-interest subsidized loan will help improve the District’s Water System.

The low-interest loan also allows the city not to have to pay back up to $500,000 of the loan for this project.

The loan will fund installation of a complete automatic meter reading system with leak detection (based on cellular network technology) by placing new meter registers/encoders, electronic cellular transmitters and associated appurtenances on all water services (existing service connection meters) throughout the town, including leak detection and software to interface with the current utility billing system.

LDH and Southeast Waterworks District No. 2 of Vermilion’s officials closed the loan last month  

“It’s very important that we use programs like this to resolve any issues that prevent Louisiana’s water systems from producing good, quality water for our families, schools and businesses,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “The closing of this loan and many others demonstrate the program’s ability to help improve Louisiana’s water infrastructure to deliver clean and safe drinking water to our citizens.”

Dr. Parham Jaberi, assistant state health officer, said it is imperative that all Louisiana residents have access to safe drinking water.

“Access to safe drinking water is critical to all Louisiana residents. The Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund helps keep water systems up-to-date, bringing safe and clean drinking water to their customers,” Jaberi said.

“These enhancements to our water system operations will allow us to continue to provide the citizens of the Waterworks District with safe, quality drinking water,” said Clint Dugas, Southeast Waterworks District No. 2 of Vermilion chairman.

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.  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.

For more information about the program, contact Jennifer Wilson at LDH's Office of Public Health, 225-342-7499.