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      RS 40:5.9.1     


§5.9.1. Community water system accountability process; creation of letter grade schedule; penalties for failing systems

            A. This Section shall be known and may be cited as "The Community Drinking Water Infrastructure Sustainability Act" which has been enacted by the legislature to provide:

            (1) For the development and implementation of a community water system accountability process which requires and supports drinking water infrastructure sustainability for the citizens of Louisiana.

            (2) Assurance to the citizens that the quality of drinking water is monitored and maintained at levels essential for health, safety, welfare, and long-term sustainability.

            (3) Clear standards and expectations for community water systems so that assessment of their quality, performance, and sustainability will be understood.

            (4) Information that will assist community water systems and citizens in understanding expectations, outcomes, and consequences for failing community water systems.

            (5) Consequences and penalties for community water systems that do not achieve minimum standards.

            B. "Community water system" has the same meaning as provided for in R.S. 40:5.8.

            C. The Louisiana Department of Health, referred to in this Section as the "department", shall provide for a statewide system of accountability for community water systems and establish a letter grade schedule reflective of community water system quality, performance, and sustainability based on, at a minimum, the following standards:

            (1) Federal water quality violation history.

            (2) State violation history.

            (3) Water system financial sustainability.

            (4) Operation and maintenance performance history.

            (5) Infrastructure violations.

            (6) Customer satisfaction.

            (7) Level of secondary contaminants.

            D.(1) The department shall promulgate rules and regulations to establish and implement the community water system letter grade schedule provided for in this Section. The rules and regulations shall provide clear and appropriate point values for each standard set forth in Subsection C of this Section and other assessed criteria as determined by the department that is used to calculate the community water system's letter grade. Point values shall be based on objective criteria so that each community water system is assessed equally and fairly. Community water systems shall be assigned a letter grade of "A", "B", "C", "D", or "F".

            (2) The department shall publish scores and letter grades earned by each community water system on its website in a frequency and duration established by rule.

            E.(1) Any community water system that receives a letter grade of "D" or "F" shall be considered operationally unacceptable and may be subject to the following:

            (a) Enforcement actions as provided for in R.S. 40:5.9.

            (b) Oversight of all federal or state funding by an auditor approved by the legislative auditor who has experience with fiscal management of local government. The oversight provided for in this Paragraph shall include the authority to make decisions regarding the expenditure of funding.

            (c) Notice being submitted to the State Bond Commission, the Public Service Commission, and the attorney general to prohibit the community water system or the local governing authority operating the community water system from incurring any additional debt for anything not directly related to the improvement and sustainability of the community drinking water system pursuant to a plan approved by the department.

            (2) A community water system that receives a letter grade of "D" or "F" shall not be precluded from obtaining funding for the improvement and sustainability of the community drinking water system based solely on the letter grade.

            F. Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, no local governing authority that operates a community water system that receives a grade of "D" or "F" shall expend any money raised through payments made by customers for access to water or from any other water system revenue for any item, debt payment, or public purpose other than the improvement and sustainability of the community water system. A violation of this Subsection shall be grounds for a court to appoint a receiver or fiscal administrator or to order the mandatory safe water purchase from another system determined to be available by the department. The provisions of this Subsection shall not be construed to prohibit the payment of bonded indebtedness secured by the water system's revenue prior to August 1, 2021.

            G. The department shall publish the first letter grades issued pursuant to this Section no later than January 1, 2023.

            Acts 2021, No. 98, §1.

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