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LDH releases final water grades for 951 Louisiana water systems



BATON ROUGE, La. — The Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) released final water grades for 951 community water systems across the state today. This process creates accountability for water systems and transparency for customers.


The final water grades follow the primary grades that were published in January. The primary grades may not have included data for financial sustainability, customer satisfaction, or bonus points awarded to a water system. The new data included in calculating the final grades will mean letter grade changes for some water systems.


In the future, water system grades will be published annually on May 1.


The water grades are enabled under Act 98 of the 2021 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature and are known as the Community Drinking Water Accountability Rule. The grades are calculated using points assigned to seven standards that evaluate the infrastructure, sustainability, and overall water quality.


State Sen. Fred Mills authored the legislation to provide residents with a snapshot of the quality of their community water systems and to encourage water systems to invest in improvements or explore consolidating with another water system to improve sustainability. Amanda Ames, chief engineer for the Louisiana Department of Health, led the initiative's implementation.


“Clean drinking water is such a fundamentally important part of our existence. In my 16 years as a state legislator, I have filed nearly 300 bills. Act 98 is one of the most important because it educates consumers about the quality of their drinking water and holds the operators of those systems accountable,” Sen. Mills said. “I am so proud of Amanda Ames and her LDH team for bringing this bill to life. I have never been more pleased with implementing a legislative concept. I know that the water system grades will be a valuable tool for consumers and incentivize water systems to prioritize their infrastructure.”


"Clean, safe drinking water is a basic human need, and drinking water infrastructure is critical to ensuring that Louisianans have reliable access to safe drinking water. Over the past several years, more state and federal funding has become available to water systems that will allow them to make the improvements that will help raise their letter grade," Ames said. "We will continue working with water systems to identify the issues contributing to low letter grades and provide systems with various options to improve their operations, financial stability, and customer satisfaction."


Water grade distribution


A: 386 systems, or 41%

B: 256 systems, or 27%

C: 171 systems, or 18%

D: 56 systems, or 6%

F: 82 systems, or 9%

"More than 65% of water systems in the state received an A or B grade. However, 15% of systems received a D or F and have opportunities for improvement," Ames said. "Dedicated funding through the LDH Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund Program, as well as other funding mechanisms, are available to help systems invest in this critical infrastructure."


Determining a water system's grade


There are seven standards evaluated to determine a system's grade. These standards are:


· Federal water quality violations

· State violations

· Financial sustainability

· Operation and maintenance

· Infrastructure

· Customer satisfaction

· Secondary contaminants (iron and Manganese)


Water systems are also eligible for up to 10 bonus points for maintaining asset management plans, a storage assessment and maintenance program, a sound assessment and maintenance program, and a capacity development program or management training program.


The LDH water grades page can be found at ldh.la.gov/watergrade


Note: LDH and Sen. Mills will hold a joint technical briefing for the media on determining water grades at 1 p.m. today and answer questions. Members of the media may log onto the virtual meeting at the Zoom link below:

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