BATON ROUGE- Louisiana drinking water systems received a collective grade of "D+" according to a state audit published Monday. The grade reflects infrastructure that is either "poor" or "crumbling."
Individually, large and medium sized systems scored high but smaller systems dragged the grade down. The smaller systems serve at most 3,300 customers and are mainly located in poor, rural communities.
According to the audit, 41% of government run systems brought in less money from customers than they spent on operations and maintenance between 2013 to 2015. Seven systems in the capital region serving 14,000 people stayed in the red for all three years including:
- Village of Wilson Water System (East Feliciana Parish)
- Town of White Castle Water System (Iberville Parish)
- Village of Gross Tete Water System (Iberville Parish)
- Village of Rosedale Water System (Iberville Parish)
- Carter Plantation Water System (Livingston Parish)
- Town of Fordoche Water System (Pointe Coupee Parish)
- City of Port Allen Water System (West Baton Rouge Parish)
"It's very hard when a community is poor because they can't afford the cost of doing business," said Dr. Jimmy Guidry, Louisiana's Health Officer. Poor or not, Guidry said rate hikes for customers in struggling systems are needed.
Guidry added there are federal loans for systems needing an upgrade. Also smaller systems in the same area could consolidate into larger systems, spreading the cost among many customers.
The audit estimates Louisiana water systems will need $5.3 billion for infrastructure over the next 20 years.
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