Jackson gets loan for water improvements _lowres

Photo provided by Jennifer Wilson -- The town of Jackson has received $800,000 for upgrades to its water system through the Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund issued by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. Presenting a check to Jackson officials in March, from left, are Dr. Jimmy Guidry, DHH health officer; Jackson Mayor Charles Coleman; Amanda Laughlin, DHH chief engineer; Hollie Gilmore, secretary/treasurer, Jackson; Dan MacDonald, DWRLF program engineer, DHH; Frank Titus, consultant engineer, Forte and Tablada; Jennifer Wilson, DWRLF program manager, DHH; attorney Andrew D’Aquilla, Adams and Reese, LLP; and attorney David Wolf, Adams and Reese, LLP.

In March, the state Department of Health and Hospitals awarded the town of Jackson an $800,000 loan through the State’s Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund, a low-interest subsidized loan that will help improve infrastructure for the city’s water system, a news release said.

The project involves the construction of a new water well, the installation of a new emergency generator system and a new chlorination storage and feed room.

“The Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund provides an affordable way to improve infrastructure and the delivery of safe, high-quality drinking water,” DHH State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry said. “Safe drinking water is crucial to community and family health, and this program helps water systems throughout Louisiana bring their infrastructure up to date and keeps residents safe and healthy.”

Loans made through the 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.

According to the release, once a loan has been approved, water systems can use the funds to make improvements, and as the systems pay back the loans, the principal and interest are used to make more money available for loans to other communities.

“Building another well is a critical need for our community,” Jackson Mayor Charles Coleman said. “This loan program has allowed us to continue to meet the water needs for Jackson residents.”

The new well will replace an existing one and correct a water quality issue, the release said.

Congress established loan program in 1996 as part of the amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act.

In Louisiana, the fund is administered by the DHH Office of Public Health, and the Fiscal Year 2015 Drinking Water Capitalization Grant allows for additional subsidies in the form of forgiveness of up to 30 percent of a loan’s principal, with a cap of $1,125,000 of principal forgiveness per project. Through this special provision, the program will provide principal forgiveness in the amount of $240,000 for the Jackson loan project.

“By providing below-market rate loans, this fund helps ensure an affordable way for Louisiana’s communities to improve their water systems,” program Manager Jennifer Wilson said.

For details about the program, call Wilson at (225) 342-7499.