Community Drinking Water Accountability Rule

Act 98 of the  2021 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature authorized the Louisiana Department of Health Safe Drinking Water Program to develop a grade for community water system accountability.  This would provide for the issuance of a  letter grade reflective  of community water system quality and performance.  LDH detemines letter grades based on 7 Standards evaluating the infrastructure, accountability, and over all health risk of drinking water to consumers.

The 7 Standards

  • Federal Water Quality
  • State Water Quality 
  • Financial Sustainability
  • Operation and Maintenance
  • Infrastructure
  • Customer Satisfaction
  • Secondary Contaminants (Iron and Manganese)

Important Dates

  • 1/1/2023 – LDH posts preliminary grades on LDH website
  • 1/31/2023 – CWSs submit rate study, annual report and financial report or audit report, flushing plan, complaint log, extra credit, etc.
  • 1/31/2023 – CWSs submit documentation indicating significant deficiencies have been resolved
  • 5/1/2023 – LDH posts final grades and notifies agencies of D and F systems
  • 7/1/2023 – CWSs include letter grade and score in the CCR that is posted on their website

Note: Water systems can send information (financial documentation, customer complaint logs, etc.) for grading to: Water.Grade@la.gov

Rule Documents

Water System Grades - Preliminary

Click Here for a report containing all water system grades

Click on the Parish to see inidividual detailed grades for your local water systems

Louisiana Parish Map

Frequently Asked Questions about Water System Grades   

  1. What is a water system grade?

Water system grades evaluate community water systems’ long-term sustainability to provide safe drinking water to Louisiana residents. Seven standards (categories) are evaluated for the water grade: federal water quality, state violations, financial sustainability, operation and maintenance, infrastructure, customer satisfaction, and secondary contaminants. Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) maintains data for all standards except standards financial sustainability and customer satisfaction. Water systems are required to submit data for financial sustainability and customer satisfaction standards by January 31, 2023.

  1. What is LDH’s role regarding drinking water provided by public water systems?

LDH administers the Safe Drinking Water Program in accordance with the Safe Drinking Water Act (40 CFR 141-142) to ensure that safe, quality drinking water is provided by the public water systems. LDH oversees approximately 1,280 public water systems statewide by monitoring drinking water monthly for bacteriological contaminants (i.e., total coliforms and E. coli) and chlorine residuals, quarterly for disinfection by-products and every three years or annually for most other chemical contaminants. LDH also conducts physical inspections, investigates water complaints and performs emergency response tasks.

  1. Why is LDH grading community water systems?

Act 98 (SB129 2021 Legislative Session) created the Community Drinking Water Infrastructure Sustainability Act which required LDH to promulgate a rule that would establish letter grades for community water systems. The intent was to provide an accountability process to support drinking water sustainability for the residents of Louisiana. 

  1. What is the difference between preliminary grades and final grades published in 2023?

LDH is publishing the first ever water system grades in 2023. The water system grades will be published in two stages in 2023. A preliminary water system grade will be published by January 1, 2023 and may not include data for financial sustainability, customer satisfaction or bonus points (totaling 80 points). A final water system grade will be published by May 1, 2023 that will include all seven categories (totaling 100 points) required for the water system grade plus bonus points. Starting in 2024, only final grades will be published at https://ldh.la.gov/watergrade by May 1 each year.

  1. What is the grading period and scale?

Grades are based on the calendar year, January 1 through December 31 and on the following 100-point scale:

 Letter Grade

 Score

 A

 ≥ 90

 B

 80 - 89

 C

 70 - 79

 D

 60 - 69

 F

 < 59

  1. What method does the water system use to notify customers of their grade?

The final grade must be included with the annual Consumer Confidence Report (also known as Annual Water Quality Report) that is posted on the water system’s public website.

  1. How is the water system’s grade calculated?

Points are deducted for each standard which vary in maximum points. The preliminary score is calculated by summing (adding) the point deductions from the five standards and then subtracting the total deduction from 80. 

 Sample Preliminary Grade Calculation
 Total possible points* 80
 Calculated deductions 7
 Score = ((80-7) X 100)/80 = 91%
 Grade A

*Data for financial sustainability, customer satisfaction and bonus points may not be considered in the Preliminary Grade published on January 1, 2023.

The final score is calculated by summing (adding) the point deductions from the seven standards and then subtracting the total point deduction from 100. A maximum of 10 bonus points may be added to the score if the required documentation is submitted by the water system by January 31, 2023.

 Sample Final Grade Calculation
 Total possible points 100
 Calculated deductions 12
 Bonus points 5
 Score = ((100 - 12 + 5) X 100 / 100 = 93%
 Grade A
  1. Where can more details regarding the water system’s significant deficiencies and violations be found?

This is available online on Drinking Water Watch at https://ldh.la.gov/drinkingwaterwatch and also on the water system’s draft Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) which can be viewed at: https://ldh.la.gov/ccr.  Final CCRs should be requested from the water system.

  1. Where can I find more information about regulations for federal and state drinking water violations?

You can visit the following websites to learn more about regulations governing drinking water provided by public water systems:

  1. How is my water system grade compared to other water systems in Louisiana?

Please see the grade distribution charts below (www.ldh.la.gov/watergrade).

Click each chart to see information about Counts or Populations for Water Systems

   
     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. My water system’s grade is an F for 2022. Is my water safe to drink?

A poor water system grade does not imply unsafe water and does not pose immediate health risk. A poor water system grade indicates significant concerns with long-term viability of a water system and requires major improvement/upgrade in order to continuously provide safe drinking water.

The water is safe to drink unless you are notified otherwise by either the water system or LDH. Water systems are required to notify customers immediately when the drinking water is unsafe to drink. 

  1. Why is my water brown but my water system has a B Grade?

Drinking water should be colorless and odorless. Failure to provide colorless and odorless drinking water by a water system is considered under two categories: customer satisfaction and secondary contaminants. The most a water system can have deducted for these two categories is 15 points. Color and odor issues in water are best resolved by contacting your water system as soon as possible.

Brown water is most likely due to secondary contaminants such as iron or manganese which are naturally found in Louisiana’s groundwater. Most groundwater systems do not have the infrastructure to remove secondary contaminants. Iron and manganese are unregulated contaminants that affect the aesthetic quality of drinking water.

Brown water can also be due to natural organic matter (NOM) that is also found in Louisiana’s ground water. Again, most groundwater systems do not have the infrastructure to remove the natural organic matter. Water systems with high NOM levels can produce disinfection by-products, such as Total Trihalomethanes (TTHMs), which is a regulated drinking water contaminant. Violations of the TTHM maximum contaminant level (MCL) are part of the water system grade under category 1 – federal water quality violations.

  1. What is LDH doing about water systems with a Grade of D or F?

For water systems with a grade of D or F, LDH is working with those water systems to return to compliance with regulations through the enforcement process, upgrade or replace infrastructure through loans/grants, and/or consolidate with another water system that is sustainable. In dire cases, LDH may seek receivership for the water system where the enforcement process has not yielded timely compliance with regulations.

Approximately 34% of the water systems with a grade of D or F have applied or have funding through the Water Sector Program and/or LDH Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund Program to address their issues.

Also, for water systems with a grade of D or F, LDH must notify State Bond Commission, Louisiana Public Service Commission, Louisiana Legislative Auditor, and Attorney General to assist with oversight of funding, new debt and revenue spending.