Residents in Sabine Parish and parts of Natchitoches Parish will receive cleaner, safer drinking water thanks to $2.6 million in improvements that are being made to the Sabine Parish Waterworks District #1.

The improvements include a new carbon filtering system designed to purify water. The new system will use granular activated carbon (GAC) treatment units that remove contaminants from the water, including harmful byproducts that can remain from chlorination systems, known as trihalomethanes (THM). 

Other system improvements include a new ground storage tank and booster station, an improved chlorination system and new pipe work and ground site work.

“We have issued the notice to work, and we anticipate all the upgrades to be complete in the next six to eight months,” Sabine Parish Waterworks District #1 President Walker Mains said. “These improvements, especially the new carbon filtering system, will make our water system cleaner and safer. In the past, we had to issue several letters to our water customers about high THM in our system. These improvements will help to eliminate that issue.”

He noted that the Sabine Parish Waterworks District #1 services all of Sabine Parish and parts of Natchitoches Parish, particularly the community of Robeline and much of the Toledo Bend area.

“We are excited about working with the managers at the Drinking Water Revolving Loan Program on completing these latest projects,” Mains added. “We worked with them about three to four years ago on adding a new water well near Hodges Garden State Park. We were so pleased with their expertise and assistance that we knew we wanted them to help us on this project.”

The Louisiana Department of Health’s Office of Public Health awarded the $2.6 million loan to the Sabine Parish Waterworks District #1 on Oct. 16 through the state’s Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund (DWRLF) program. The low-interest, subsidized loan allows the district to make improvements at an affordable cost, and the district is eligible for as much as $500,000 in principal loan forgiveness.

"The Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund has provided an affordable way for the residents of this water system to improve their local drinking water infrastructure," LDH State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry said. "Safe drinking water is fundamental to community health, and this program helps communities throughout Louisiana keep their water as safe as possible without placing an undue burden in the form of expensive financing.”

Louisiana’s DWRLF Program Manager Jennifer Wilson said the U.S. Congress established state Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund programs in 1996 as part of an amendment 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). 

“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,” Wilson said.

She noted that 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 to other communities that have drinking water needs. 

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