The Sabine Parish Waterworks District No. 1 was awarded $1 million by the Louisiana Department of Health’s Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund (DWRLF) Program to construct a new water well, including new chlorination equipment and transmission main near the district’s Ajax facility.
The new well will replace a defunct well at that site, according to Project Engineer Henry Shuler of Shuler Consulting Company.
“The Ajax system had two water wells in the past, but one of those wells is no longer operating,” Shuler said. “The new well will replace that defunct well, and the primary benefactors of this investment will be the nearby residents of Powhatan, which this facility serves.”
Shuler said the $1 million investment is part of a larger project that is planned for the Sabine Parish Waterworks District No. 1 system. The district expects to invest another $8 million in new pipelines, multiple water tanks and treatment facilities, as well as upgraded meters and monitoring programs over the next two to three years. These improvements will benefit several communities in Sabine and Natchitoches parishes, including Marthaville, Robeline, Ajax, Powhatan, Allen, Lake End, and Pleasant Hill. More than 1,000 households will feel the impact.
“All of this is part of an effort that started in 2020, when the Sabine Parish Waterworks District consolidated with the Ajax-Beulah Water Association and began upgrading facilities at that time,” Shuler said. “All our efforts have been aimed at providing the safest, cleanest drinking water possible for the district’s water customers.”
The state’s DWRLF Program first awarded $2.295 million to the Sabine Parish Waterworks District No. 1 in October 2020 to take over the neighboring water system and restore it to compliance with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act requirements.
Funding for the 2020 project and current project was awarded through DWRLF’s Consolidation Initiative Program, which provides loans that are 100% forgiven for approved consolidation projects that eliminate existing public water systems that pose a threat to public health.
Shuler said that consolidation effort has been completed, and now further upgrades are being made. He said the new water well will be able to produce 300 gallons per minute, and it will include new chlorination equipment and approximately 14,000 linear feet of six-inch water main pipe.
DWRLF Project Manager Joel McKenzie said the most recent loan was awarded June 1, 2023.
“All loan projects are approved based upon a priority ranking system. 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.
LDH Chief Engineer Amanda Ames said Congress established the State Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund programs in 1996 as part of amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act. The program is jointly funded by an annual grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (80%) and the individual participating states (20%).
In Louisiana, the program is administered by LDH’s Office of Public Health, which oversees DWRLF. Loans made through this program are low-interest and have a maximum 30-year repayment period.
“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,” Ames said.