LEESVILLE-Today, USDA Rural Development announced that it would provide a little over $16.1 million or nearly $16.2 million in funding for the City of Leesville to make improvements to its water system, which will not only help to ensure the health, sanitation and security of the water system and water users, but also help to conserve 40 million gallons of water a month.
The project funding is a combination of a loan and a grant from Rural Development and additional funding from the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. Rural Development will provide a loan of $11,342,000 and a grant in the amount of $3,713,000, while the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals will provide funding through principle forgiveness in the amount of $1,125,000.
"Securing this funding is a huge accomplishment for the City of Leesville and a leap forward in becoming good stewards of the resources with which we've been blessed," said Leesville Mayor Robert Rose.
"I'm proud that USDA Rural Development was able to assist the City of Leesville in securing funds to improve the water system that will help create a stronger sustainable community," said USDA Rural Development State Director Clarence W. Hawkins.
The city currently experiences anywhere from 25-30 water leaks at any given time, which translates into a loss of about $30,000 every month.
"These water leaks have held us captive and pushed us dangerously close to the edge of disaster for too long. The funding from Rural Development has renewed our landscape. No longer are we courting disaster with our water system. No longer are we simply patching a failing system."
Mayor Rose pointed out that the new system will immediately provide a safe and secure water supply to the City's more than 3,300 active customers for decades to come.
In addition, updates to the system will provide standby power during power outages, which is an important consideration since Leesville is on the hurricane evacuation route for Southwest Louisiana.
The improvements will also ensure an emergency water supply for Fort Polk.
"Today, surrounded as we are by overflowing aquifers, abundant ground water and here lately more rain than we can shake a stick at, it's hard to imagine that we might one day need to buy water from someone else," said Mayor Rose. "But in fact, our neighbors to the west in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California are doing just that. Already Texas has come knocking to see what we might have to spare because they simply don't have enough water to go around.
"There is no doubt that we need to do what we can today to preserve our resources for tomorrow. We certainly don't need to let 40 million gallons of water spill out onto the ground simply because we can't make the repairs to stop it."
Mayor Rose thanked RD State Director Clarence W. Hawkins, Community Programs Director Richard Hoffpauir and Program Specialist Tony Matlockfrom USDA Rural Development; the Leesville City Council; City of Leesville Engineers Vernon Meyers and Mark McCarty and the Baton Rouge congressional delegation for Leesville, Representative James Armes and Senator John Smith, for their support in securing the funds for this project.
About the Improvements
This USDA Rural Development funding will facilitate necessary improvements to the water system, which should improve water services, reduce water loss, and help to ensure a reliable, safe source of water for the future. The project includes replacement of many distribution mains, including up-sizing of various water mains to improve water pressure and service, replacement of many old hydrants, installation of two new 720 gallon per minute wells, new generators for backup power supply, rehabilitation of two elevated water storage tanks and one non-elevated water storage tank, construction of two new 500,000 gallon storage tanks and various other improvements to the existing water system. The total project cost is $16,180,000.00 with approximately $15,055,000.00 assistance from USDA/RD and the remainder coming from Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.