Concerning water issues, not only do Shreveport and Bossier City residents have to worry about the fiscal health of their city-run water utilities, but also many now must face an unfunded mandate in the hundreds of dollars annually despite the best efforts of the state senator who represents both cities, an issue that may impact elections this fall.
This week, the Louisiana Department of Health issued grades to water systems through 2022. Using an extensive rubric, all in the state received a score from 0 to 100 (technically 110, as bonus points were awarded to those systems with an asset management plan). Shreveport didn’t fare that well, scoring only 75. It lost half of the 10 points available for fiscal sustainability, all 20 for infrastructure, and all 10 for customer satisfaction (a point off for each valid complaint about the system water quality or quantity). Without the bonus for the plan, it would have scored among the bottom 15 percent of systems in the state.
Its deficiencies don’t surprise. Woefully behind on fixing long-identified shortcomings that led to a consent decree with the federal government about a decade ago, the city remains hundreds of millions of dollars away from finishing required repairs within the next four years, so far behind partially because elected officials hesitated in raising water and waste fees due to the political unpopularity of that response.