Louisiana Receiving Water System Applications for Grants

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana has received nearly 200 applications so far from community water systems seeking a share of $300 million in federal coronavirus aid that state lawmakers have earmarked for improvements to public water and sewage systems.

Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne, the governor’s chief budget adviser, provided an update on the program Monday. His office is accepting the applications and will make recommendations to lawmakers about which ones they should approve.

The grant application period opened Aug. 1 and continues until Sept. 24.

Dardenne said Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration will make recommendations to lawmakers about the applications by Nov. 8. The administration will grade its applications based on severity of need, willingness to consolidate with other systems, readiness to proceed, among other criteria, Dardenne said.

“There’s a huge interest in this program,” he told the Press Club of Baton Rouge. “There’s not going to be enough money to address everything.”

Lawmakers on the joint House and Senate budget committee will decide which projects actually get financing.

Local water systems will be required to put up a 25% match for the money, though Dardenne said lawmakers can waive that requirement.

Louisiana has nearly 1,300 water systems statewide. About half are operating off structures that are more than 50 years old, according to reports documenting their vulnerabilities. In some rural areas, systems are teetering on the brink of failure and face such significant population loss they don’t have enough money for proper maintenance. Needed repairs and improvements are estimated to cost billions.

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