BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Louisiana will receive more than $101 million from the Environmental Protection Agency to repair drinking water infrastructure as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
With the act passed, the state will receive $101,243,000 for drinking water infrastructure improvements. Senator Bill Cassidy was one of the lead authors of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and he said in a statement, “this is a major victory for Louisiana and our nation. This infrastructure package will rebuild our roads and bridges, increase access to high-speed internet, strengthen our electric grid, add levee protection, and improve flood resiliency. After almost every corner of our state was hit by natural disasters in the last year, we must have the federal investment to protect us from future storms.”
“I heard about the need for clean water systems, sewer systems, et cetera in our state,” says Cassidy. This funding will be used to upgrade drinking water infrastructure, including replacing lead pipes, removing contaminants, and ensuring that underserved rural communities have clean drinking water.
But the more than $101 million is just the first chunk of cash the state will get. Louisiana will also receive similar sums of money over the next four years. Less than half of the funds will be forgivable grants, but the rest will be in loans that will later fund additional infrastructure projects. “The good thing about this is that about 48% of it is forgivable grants, but 52% of what a community gets is in low-interest loans, which they then payback, and so we replenish the dollars. So not just is there more money coming in every year, but some of it is being paid back, so the impact continues for a decade,” says Cassidy.
Cassidy adds, “It’s a lot of money, there’s a lot of need, and this money will help fill that need. Probably won’t do it entirely, but it’s a lot better off than we otherwise would be.” The funds will allow for significant improvements to water infrastructure, but the work won’t be over at the end of the five years. “Fixing infrastructures like mowing the grass, you got to do it all the time. But when you’ve got a pent-up demand, as we do in Louisiana, the infrastructure bill is going to give us the ability to catch up where we should be,” says Cassidy.
Governor John Bel Edwards also released a statement following the announcement saying that “ensuring that our citizens have access to clean and safe drinking water has always been among my top priorities and this allocation of federal dollars from the IIJA could help many more communities across Louisiana.”