Baton Rouge—The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals' Office of Public Health recently awarded $2.5 million to the City of Winnfield water system through the state's Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund Program.
"It is imperative that all Louisiana residents have access to safe drinking water, and this program helps ensure that communities have a source of dependable and affordable financing so their water system facilities benefit from the latest and most modern technology," said DHH Office of Public Health Assistant Secretary J.T. Lane.
The City of Winnfield will use its Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund loan to install automated water meters, construct a new 1,000 gallon-per-minute drinking water well and make other necessary improvements to the city's drinking water system.
Winnfield city officials say the upgrades will improve service and bring the city's drinking water system up-to-date. "It's important that we have good, plentiful and safe drinking water," said Winnfield Mayor B.R. Audirsch. "With the installation of new electronic meters it will ensure that the city will not have the loss of water and water revenues due to outdated water meters, thus saving the taxpayers money."
The state's Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund program provided $2.5 million to the City of Winnfield in the form of a 20-year low-interest loan. Through special provisions in the Fiscal Year 2010 Capitalization Grant from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund will provide $750,000 in principal forgiveness, which means this amount won't have to be repaid.
Congress established State Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund Programs in 1996 as part of the amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act. The program provides loans to public and privately-owned community and nonprofit, non-community water systems to make needed 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 improvement needs. Loans made through this program are low interest and have a maximum 20-year repayment period.
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). In Louisiana it is administered by DHH's Office of Public Health. The FY 2010 Drinking Water Capitalization Grant allowed for additional subsidy in the form of principal forgiveness of up to 30% of the loan principal, with a cap of $1,125,000 of principal forgiveness per project.
"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 Meyer, program manager for the Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund.
Interested water systems should contact Jennifer Meyer at DHH's Office of Public Health, 225-342-8355.
The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens. To learn more about DHH, visit http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov. For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow DHH's blog, Twitter account and Facebook.