Capacity Development Program
The Capacity Development Program is a set-aside activity of the Louisiana Department of Health Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund (DWRLF). The Capacity Development program was established to ensure that a Public Water System (PWS) has the technical, managerial, and financial capacity to achieve, maintain, and plan for compliance with applicable drinking water standards given available resources and the characteristics of the service population. The program was created by the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) of 1996, with the Louisiana Department of Health strategy being finalized in 1998.
LDH as directed by EPA is required to submit Louisiana's Capacity Development Annual Report and Report on the Efficacy and Progress. These reports show the progress LDH has made toward improving the technical, managerial, and financila capacity of the states public water systems.
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Louisiana's strategy consists of three elements below.
New Public Water Systems
Any new Public Water System (PWS) must go through the Capacity Development Program to receive a permit to begin construction. This process includes a technical review of the PWS proposed plans and specifications along with the completion of a business plan to ensure the PWS will have the technical, managerial and financial capacity to adequately provide safe drinking water to its service populations. After the review a permit will be issued if the proposed project meets all the proper engineer requirements, management standards, and sufficient financial resources have been identified.
Existing Public Water Systems
The Existing Public Water System (PWS) Review is conducted to ensure systems have the technical, managerial, and financial capacity to maintain compliance or come back into compliance with applicable drinking water standards. PWSs are randomly picked from the previous year's violation list, approximately twenty PWSs are chosen each quarter for capacity assessment in a selected region of the state. Prioritization for selection of a PWS is based on whether it has been issued an administrative order, and/or is on the significant non-compliers list and/or has had primary maximum contaminant level (MCL) violations during the past three years. PWS are sent written notification they have been selected along with a review package that contains a management questionnaire and a basic financial information request. If your system has received one of these notifications and packages, a representative from the Department of Health will contact you and explain the process. The process consists of: (1) completion of the management questionnaire and (2) providing the requested basic financial information. If a PWS is found to be lacking in any aspect of capacity, free technical assistance can be provided to assist in bringing the PWS into compliance. The Existing PWS Capacity Development Review is not an enforcement program but is a free assistance tool for PWS to remain in compliance with current rules and regulations while preparing for future ones.
Public Water Systems applying for Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund monies
To demonstrate technical capacity, DWRLF loan applicants must show that drinking water sources are adequate, that the system's source, treatment, distribution and storage infrastructure are adequate and that personnel have the technical knowledge to efficiently operate and maintain the system. As part of reviewing a loan applicant's System Improvement Plan, Louisiana reviews the system's records to assure that the system is being properly operated and maintained. The water system must not have outstanding water compliance problems unless the DWRLF project is intended to correct those problems. The engineering reports, plans, and specifications for the proposed DWRLF-funded project and the system's System Improvement Plan will all be evaluated during the loan application process for technical capacity compliance.
To demonstrate financial capacity, the applicant must show that the system has sufficient and dedicated revenues to cover necessary costs and demonstrate credit worthiness and adequate fiscal controls. Louisiana reviews the applicant's business plan, which includes 5-year projections, the project budget, the three (3) most recent annual financial reports, and/or audits, and other financial information to ensure adequate financial capacity of the applicant.
To demonstrate managerial capacity, the water system must have personnel with expertise to manage the entire water system operation. Louisiana reviews the applicant's managerial capacity via the Business Plan and supporting documentation to assure that management is involved in the day to day supervision of the water system, is responsive to all required regulations, is available to respond to emergencies, and is capable of identifying and addressing all necessary capital improvements and assuring financial viability. The water system must have a qualified water operator in accordance with the state's operator certification program. The management personnel of the water system are strongly encouraged to attend a state approved 4-hour management training session.