The Sabine Parish Waterworks District No. 1 System has been awarded the Aquarius Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its Consolidation Project with Ajax-Beulah Water System.
The award recognizes the most exceptional drinking water system improvement projects funded through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF), which is a federal-state partnership to finance the construction and rehabilitation of critical drinking water infrastructure projects. The award was presented at the Council of Infrastructure and Finance Authorities (CIFA) Summit Conference held in Washington, D.C., in April 2023.
Sabine Parish Waterworks District’s consolidation project with Ajax-Beulah Water System was selected over DWSRF projects from across a five-state area in EPA Region 6, including Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and New Mexico.
“This project exemplifies the purpose and potential of funding initiatives provided through the state’s Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund (DWRLF) program. The goal of each project is to bring safe, quality drinking water to every consumer served by our water systems,” DWRLF Project Engineer Brian Baker said.
The consolidation project was nominated for the award by the Louisiana Department of Health’s (LDH) DWRLF project managers. Once nominated, Sabine Parish Waterworks District No. 1 was selected as the EPA Region 6 Aquarius Award recipient for being exceptional in demonstrating leadership in at least one or more of the following areas: emerging contaminants, aging infrastructure, innovative financing, affordability, water loss control, efficient water and/or energy use, creative approach to project planning and implementation, or water system partnerships.
With assistance from the consultant engineering firm Shuler Consulting Company, Sabine Parish Waterworks District No. 1 applied for and obtained funding for a consolidation project through the DWRLF “Consolidation Initiative Program” (CIP), which provides 100% principal forgiven loans to well managed water systems to consolidate with failing water systems and make improvements that enable the well managed system to absorb the failing water system.
The project was awarded $2.295 million in 2020 to take over the neighboring water system of Ajax and restore it to compliance with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act requirements.
Since that time, Sabine Parish Waterworks has received an additional $1 million from DRWLF to construct a new water well near the former Ajax facility to provide clean, safe water for the nearby residents of Powhatan.
“We are very proud of the positive outcomes gained through our work with this district,” DWRLF Program Manager Joel McKenzie said. “Much credit goes to our project engineering team and the consultants and leadership of Sabine Parish Waterworks for pursuing impactful projects for their local area.”
Sabine Parish Waterworks District was the first applicant to meet the requirements and obtain funding through DWRLF’s new CIP, according to McKenzie.
“Because of this consolidation project, Sabine Parish Waterworks District No. 1 now provides safe and affordable drinking water to approximately 400 more customers that were formerly served by the Ajax-Beulah Water System, considered to be a disadvantaged community as defined by LDH,” LDH Chief Engineer Amanda Ames said.
Pictured from left are Jennifer McClain, Director of the Environmental Protection Agency Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water, who presented Walter Mains, President of Sabine Parish Waterworks District No. 1, with the Aquarius Award for its consolidation project with the Ajax-Beulah Water System. Also pictured are Janice Randow, Clerk of Sabine Parish Waterworks District No. 1; David Mains, Vice President of Sabine Parish Waterworks District No.1; Rusty Reeves, Deputy Director of Louisiana Rural Water Association, and Brian Baker, DWRLF Project Engineer.