Legislation calls for grading state’s community water systems

Louisiana would set up a statewide accountability system to grade the condition of its community water systems, under a bill that has started advancing in the state Senate.

The proposal, SB129 sponsored by Senate Health and Welfare Chairman Fred Mills, would task the Louisiana Department of Health with developing the grading system, which would include grades of A through F.

The systems would be judged on their history of federal and state water quality violations, financial sustainability, operations and performance, customer satisfaction and other benchmarks.

The health department would have to publish the letter grades online, with the first grades required in 2023.

Any community water system that receives a D or F grade could be subject to corrective measures such as takeover, financial restrictions and enhanced auditing and would have to submit improvement plans to the health department.

Mills, a Republican from St. Martin Parish, says the grading system—similar to grades awarded to public school systems based on student performance—would bring consumer awareness to communities. He hopes that will draw local attention to systems in need of improvements.

The Senate Health and Welfare Committee approved the proposal without objection, sending it to the full Senate for debate this week.