The Louisiana Department of Health recently awarded a $3,666,000 loan to Southwest Ouachita Waterworks through the State’s Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund. This low-interest subsidized loan will help improve the water system quality.

LDH and Southwest Ouachita Waterworks officials closed the loan on November 14, 2016. The proposed project includes the replacement of pressure sand filters with granular activated carbon filters at four locations, as well as rehabilitating one elevated storage tank and constructing three new ground storage tanks. The project is intended to correct problems with disinfection byproducts and allow the system to comply with Environmental Protection Agency’s standards for drinking water.

“Access to clean, safe drinking water is crucial to community and family health,” LDH State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry said. “The Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund provides an affordable way for water systems to bring facilities up to date to protect these goals.”

Loans made through this program have low interest rates and repayment periods capped at 20 years. Both public and privately-owned community water systems and nonprofit, non-community water systems are eligible to apply for loans. Once a loan has been approved, water systems can use the funds to make necessary improvements. As the systems pay back the loans, the principal and interest are used to make more money available for loans to other communities. All projects funded by these loans 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 federal Safe Drinking Water Act are given the highest priority.

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 and the individual participating states. In Louisiana, the fund is administered by the LDH Office of Public Health. The Fiscal Year 2016 Drinking Water Capitalization Grant allowed for additional subsidies in the form of principal forgiveness of up to 20 percent of the loan’s principal, with a cap of $500,000 of principal forgiveness per project. 

Through this special provision, the Revolving Loan Fund will provide additional financial assistance in the form of principal forgiveness in the amount of $500,000 for this loan for Southwest Ouachita Waterworks.

“This fund allows us to assist drinking water systems in complying with the Safe Drinking Water Act,” said Jennifer Wilson, program manager for LDH’s Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund. “By providing low-interest subsidized loans, communities are able to make needed improvements to ensure drinking water quality.”

For more information about the program, contact Jennifer Wilson at 225-342-7499.

The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state residents. To learn more about LDH, visit www.ldh.la.gov. For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow LDH's Twitter account and Facebook.