By Paige Nash
The Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) has released final water grades for 951 community water systems across the state, a process that creates accountability for water systems and provides transparency for water system customers.
The final water grades follow preliminary grades that were published in January.
The preliminary 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.
Going forward, water system grades will be published annually on May 1.
In Webster Parish, the water systems were given the following grades:
Bistineau Water System – A
Blocker Water System – C
Central Water System – C
Cotton Valley Water System – C
Cullen Water System – B
Dixie Inn Water System – B
Dixie Overland Water System – B
Doyline Waterworks District 1 – C
Dubberly Water System – B
Germantown Water System – C
Gilark Water System – D
Heflin Water System – A
Horseshoe Road Water System – C
Jenkins Community Water System – B
Leton Water System – A
State of La Military Dept (Camp Minden) – B
McIntyre Water System – B
Midway Water System – B
Minden Water System – A
Palmetto Waterworks Inc – D
Pleasant Valley Water System – C
Saltworks Water System – C
Sarepta Waterworks District – B
Shongaloo Water System – B
Sibley Water System – B
Springhill Water System – C
State Line Water System – B
Thomasville Water System – B
Union Grove Water System – C
Dorcheat Acres Water System – C
Gil-Gal Water System – C
St. James Water System – B
The water grades are enabled under Act 98 of the 2021 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature and is 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, and 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 implementation of a legislative concept, and I know that the water system grades will be a valuable tool for consumers and an incentive for water systems to make their infrastructure a priority.”
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 a range of 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
– 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 well assessment and maintenance program and for participating in a capacity development program or management training program.
The LDH water grades page can be found at ldh.la.gov/watergrade