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The Village of Ridgecrest is a step closer to obtaining funding to tie in with the Ferriday water system.

Louisiana Community Development Block Grant (LCDBG) representatives invited Ridgecrest on Aug. 30 to submit a full application to the fiscal year 2020 public facilities program.

Ridgecrest is now one of 60 applicants in the second stage of applying for part of $20 million allocated by the Office of Community Development.

Final funding decisions will be announced in April.

“The Louisiana Community Development Block Grant Program allows us to address some of the basic necessities of our people by providing funds for sewer rehabilitation projects, water and street improvements, economic development projects and other priorities,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards in a statement about the program. 

The LCDBG Program is a federally-funded Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program that is administered through the Office of Community Development. It includes assistance for public facilities through grants that are used to provide and sustain suitable living environments by helping communities with funds for potable water, sewer, streets, and community center projects, according to its website. The program includes LaSTEP grants which assist communities with funds for solving water and sewer problems through the use of self-help techniques. 

“We have made it to the next step and that was the first step (in funding),” said Ridgecrest Mayor Veller Ray Carroll. “We are hoping to be funded, so we don’t have to borrow any money. This is not an overnight process, but it is just one step at a time.”

Additionally, Ridgecrest officials have applied for a USDA loan for possible tie in funding.

If approved for the USDA loan, officials plan to obligate the money and “wait to see if we are funded from the block grant,” said Keith Capdepon, lead project engineer with Bryant Hammett & Associates during an earlier Ridgecrest Council meeting.

The USDA loan program provides affordable funding to develop essential community facilities in rural areas, according to its website. An essential community facility is defined as a facility providing an essential service to the local community for orderly development in a primarily rural area.

Residents using Ridgecrest’s water system have been dealing with brown-colored water that many times exceeded allowable total trihalomethanes (TTHMs). The problems have persisted for several years and were caused by deteriorating infrastructure in its water plant and lines.

A $91,000 Louisiana Department of Health fine earlier this year exacerbated Ridgecrest’s problem.

The fines originated from an on-site sanitary survey of Ridgecrest’s water supply on April 6, 2015 by a state health officer, according to Louisiana Department of Health documents. Additionally, a data audit was conducted for the purpose of determining any non-compliance with state drinking water regulations and standards.

While performing the survey, the state health officer found the average TTHMs collected from the water exceeded the maximum contaminant level during July 1, 2014 through Dec. 31, 2016, according to Louisiana Department of Health documents.

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