BATON ROUGE, La. – The Sabine Parish Waterworks District No. 1 has been awarded $2,295,000 by the Louisiana Department of Health’s Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund (DWRLF) Program to take over a smaller, neighboring water system to restore it to compliance with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act requirements and provide its customers with safe and reliable drinking water.
Sabine Parish Waterworks District No. 1 will absorb the Ajax-Beulah Water Association into its system with improved piping, valves and metering throughout the existing system, as well as with the construction of a new granular activated carbon (GAC) treatment unit, ground storage tank, booster station, and chlorination systems to better filtrate the water. GAC filters primarily remove organic chemicals from drinking water, and they remove chemicals that give objectionable odors or tastes to water, such as hydrogen sulfide or chlorine.
The funding for the improvements was provided through the DWRLF’s newly created Consolidation Initiative Program, which provides loans that are 100-percent forgiven for approved consolidation projects that eliminate existing public water systems that pose a threat to public health. The Louisiana Department of Health and Sabine Parish Waterworks District No. 1 closed on the $2,295,000 loan in August, making it the first project to be accepted and funded by the state program.
“With the 100 percent principal forgiven funds provided by the DWRLF, our system is able to provide safe, reliable and affordable drinking water to the customers of the Ajax-Beulah Water System,” said Walter Mains, president of Sabine Parish Waterworks District No. 1. He noted that the Ajax-Beulah Water Association has struggled in the past to come into compliance with federal regulations, and so it made the decision to consolidate with the larger system earlier this year.
Main said the funding will also allow the Sabine Parish Waterworks District No. 1 to provide an emergency connection to the customers of the Powhatan Water System.
"The Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund’s Consolidation Initiative Program has provided a way for the residents of this water system to improve their local drinking water infrastructure with no financial burden to the citizens, as the program covers 100 percent of the cost," LDH state health officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry said.
"Safe drinking water is fundamental to community health, and this program helps communities throughout Louisiana keep their water as safe as possible without placing an undue burden in the form of expensive financing,” Guidry said.
Joel McKenzie, program manager for Louisiana’s DWRLF program, said the Consolidation Initiative Program is available to any water system that is willing and able to consolidate a nearby system that is not in compliance with federal Safe Drinking Water Act requirements. However, the funds are limited, and they are awarded based upon a priority ranking system. He noted that multiple communities across the state have applied for the forgivable loans.
“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,” McKenzie said.
To learn more about LDH, visit www.ldh.louisiana.gov. For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow LDH's Twitter account and Facebook for more information about the program.