The Department of Health has awarded a $975,000 loan to the Town of Welsh in Jefferson Davis Parish. The loan is through the State’s Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund, and will help the town improve its drinking water system.
In addition to the loan, the Fiscal Year 2016 Drinking Water Capitalization Grant allowed for additional subsidies in the form of principal forgiveness of $195,000.
Beth Scalco, LDH assistant secretary for the Office of Public Health, said it's imperative that all Louisiana residents have access to safe drinking water.
“This program gives local communities a source of dependable and affordable financing to bring their water treatment facilities up to the latest and most modern technology that keeps their residents safe and healthy.”
The loan was closed on May 19, and the funding will be used to replace an existing ground storage tank that is deteriorating. The tank is located at the water treatment plant.
"I am very pleased to work with the Office of Public Health’s drinking water program to get this loan,” said Welsh Mayor Carolyn Louviere. “This funding will allow us to replace the storage tank. Our goal is to make continuous improvements such as this, allowing us to provide better drinking water for our residents.”
Congress established State Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund Programs in 1996 as part of 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). It is administered by LDH’s Office of Public Health. The FY 2016 Drinking Water Capitalization Grant allowed for additional subsidy in the form of principal forgiveness of up to 20 percent of the loan principal, with a cap of $500,000 of principal forgiveness per project.
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.
“The purpose of the fund is to provide states with a financial mechanism to make below market rate loans to drinking water systems for infrastructure improvements. These improvements assist the systems in complying with the Safe Drinking Water Act and protecting public health,” said Jennifer Wilson, program manager for the Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund.
For more information about the program, contact Jennifer Wilson at LDH's Office of Public Health, 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, Facebook and blog.