LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - During a recent briefing, Gov. John Bel Edwards outlined his plans for the more than $1 billion the state will receive from the American Rescue Plan and ultimately how it will impact communities like Southwest Louisiana.
There’s no doubt the funding comes at a perfect time for the area as it continues to recover from last year’s storms in addition to the pandemic. The funding comes at an even better time for the City of Sulphur.
”The funding is absolutely a necessary thing,” said Sulphur Mayor Mike Danahay. “We’ve been impacted greatly by COVID. The water’s going to be funded in the current fiscal year. The next fiscal year, the water plant improvements. Certainly, we want to focus on wastewater as well.”
According to a recent report, Louisiana received a D-grade for its drinking water infrastructure.
In total, the American Rescue Plan allocates $1.6 billion for the state with $300 million going to local water and sewer systems.
Sulphur is no stranger to water issues. Since 2019, Mayor Danahay and City workers have been able to provide temporary fixes, but this new funding will help aid long-term solutions.
The City is set to receive $7.4 million from the American Rescue Plan to help aid major projects.
”Short-term plan was to replace the filter media in the current vessels. It got interrupted by the storms,” Mayor Danahay said. “Our long-term was to replace the filter vessels completely.”
The City of Sulphur passed a resolution at the city council meeting on Apr. 12, authorizing the city to accept bids on water filters for the Verdine water plant.
Prior to the American Rescue Plan, Danahay said the city had already used funds from its budget to make improvements to the water system. Funding from the American Rescue Plan will more than likely be used in the next fiscal year once the city’s water filter project and water well installations are complete.
During last week’s briefing, Gov. Edwards noted the state’s D-minus grade when it comes to Louisiana’s drinking water infrastructure.
”Over 50 percent of Louisiana’s water systems have infrastructure that is over 50 years old,” Gov. Edwards said. “They are expensive to repair and modernize, but they are absolutely essential to the health of the community.”
Out of 1,287 water systems in Louisiana, 260 are under formal enforcement.
The City of Sulphur recently completed a two-million gallon ground storage water tank and anticipates making improvements to its water well system with the additional funding from the American Rescue Plan.
Mayor Danahay said that the water in Sulphur is safe for drinking. He also adds that the city has gone from four wells to two. One well is being reworked and another well will be added in the next fiscal year.
Governor Edwards’ priorities for the first $1.6 billion in funding are:
- Shoring up the Unemployment Trust Fund – $400 million
- Unemployment Insurance loan payment – $230 million
- Infrastructure – $400 million
- Water and Sewer Systems – $300 million
- Tourism and Convention and Visitors Bureaus – $125 million
- Department of Culture Recreation and Tourism – $20 million
- Louisiana Ports – $50 million