Louisiana lawmakers voted to allocate $274 million to 87 community water and sewage systems around the state for upgrades and overhauls.
According to the lawmakers’ joint budget letterhead, legislators agreed to distribute an initial $23 million to 29 water and sewer systems in early December.
The projects to be funded were picked from approximately 500 applications. Local systems will still need to execute a legal agreement with the state over the next two months to receive the necessary funds.
Recipients were selected based on need, long-term viability of their system and readiness to start construction. According to state lawmakers, local governments that could cover more of the cost of their projects were likely to receive money and systems willing to consolidate with each other were prioritized.
$179.4 million was approved for water system upgrades and $94.7 million for sewer projects, reported the joint budget.
In 2021, lawmakers decided to provide $300 million in federal funding for economic recovery to water and sewer system upgrades.
An additional $550 million toward water and sewer repairs has been proposed in the next budget cycle. According to House Appropriations Chairman Jerome Zeringue, these projects are also a top priority for lawmakers, reported The Louisiana Illuminator.
The state’s drinking water infrastructure is expected to need $7 billion worth of investment over the next 20 years, however.
“There are simply too many projects and not enough dollars,” said Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne, who oversees state government spending, reported The Louisiana Illuminator.
According to Dardenne, some systems who received money in this round were given a waiver if they were unable to come up with the share of the project funding, which may likely occur in rural areas.