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EPA Announces $688M in WIFIA Loan Awards


Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced three Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loans totaling $688 million to help advance water infrastructure projects.

“In my first year as EPA Administrator, I have visited communities from coast to coast. I’ve seen aging infrastructure that communities count on for clean and safe water. I’ve seen the harm that is caused when water systems fail, and I’ve seen the revitalization that comes with new investment,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan

“Investing in water infrastructure strengthens the health of our communities while creating good paying jobs. This is a fundamental way that EPA is Building a Better America under President Biden’s leadership, and its why we’re so excited to put more than $50 billion to work in water infrastructure through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.”

In a speech to the U.S. Conference Mayors, Regan announced the three new WIFIA loans, awarded to:

  • City of Baltimore ($396 million): implement projects to improve the reliability and resiliency of its water systems, including by replacing water mains ahead of schedule, with the city saving approximately $100 million while project construction and operation are expected to create an estimated 2,700 jobs;
  • Union Sanitary District, California ($250 million): fund upgrades to aging water infrastructure to improve wastewater treatment, reduce nutrient discharges to the San Francisco Bay and increase resiliency to the impacts of climate change, with project construction and operation are expected to create 1,630 jobs; and
  • Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District ($42 million):  expand its stormwater management capacity and reduce flood risk in historically underserved communities, with project construction and operation expected to create an estimated 130 jobs.

According to the EPA, the agency closed 29 WIFIA loans in the first year of the Biden-Harris Administration, investing over $5 billion nationwide to protect public health and the environment while creating over 36,000 jobs.

Under the bipartisan infrastructure law, the EPA will receive $50 billion to improve the country’s drinking water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure, reportedly the largest investment in water ever made by the federal government. The Agency will also provide $7.4 billion in 2022 to the State Revolving Funds, with more over the next five years.

Call to Apply

In December, the EPA announced that it had invited 39 new projects to apply for WIFIA loans. The EPA anticipates that, as funding becomes available, $6.7 billion in WIFIA loans will help finance over $15 billion in water infrastructure projects across 24 states. The invited projects will also reportedly help modernize water infrastructure for 25 million Americans and create up to 49,000 jobs.

“Far too many communities still face significant water challenges, making these transformative investments in water infrastructure so crucial,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “The WIFIA-invited projects will deliver major benefits like the creation of good-paying jobs and the safeguarding of public health, especially in underserved and under-resourced communities.

“This program is a shining example of the public health and economic opportunities that will be achieved under President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.”

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Projects selected by the EPA to apply look at impacts of extreme weather events, the climate crisis, cybersecurity, green infrastructure and water reuse. Approximately $1.2 billion in loans are available to support infrastructure in historically underserved communities.

In a goal to diversify the program, the EPA selected three small communities, with populations of 25,000 or less, for WIFIA loans totaling nearly $62 million. The EPA reports that entities in Connecticut, Delaware and Hawaii are invited to apply for the first time.

A full list of invited projects can be found here

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WIFIA Background, Closed Loans

The federal loan and guarantee program was established by the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 2014 by the EPA. The goal of the program is to accelerate investment in the nation’s water infrastructure by providing long-term, low-cost supplemental credit assistance.

In total, since 2017, WIFIA has selected 189 projects to apply for WIFIA loans. The EPA reports that selected borrowers have requested nearly $29 billion.

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The Agency has announced 63 loans that total over $12 billion in credit assistance for $26 billion in water infrastructure projects. It has reportedly created more than 73,000 jobs and saved ratepayers over $4.5 billion.

In looking at 2020’s numbers through a WIFIA program report released in February, the Agency only closed 27 loans, totaling over $4 billion. However, despite the challenges faced last year in wake of COVID-19, the Agency reports to have $11 billion worth of projects in the pipeline and a portfolio of 41 loans which supplied $7.8 billion in total financing.

“With the recent selection of 58 new projects, including a record number of projects serving small communities, drinking water needs, and lower-income populations, I am looking forward to what 2021 holds for the program and the new opportunities we will have to help finance critical water infrastructure projects,” wrote Jorianna Jernberg, Acting Director, WIFIA Management Division.

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In breaking down the program’s accomplishments and funds requested by project type:

  • $6.8 billion for wastewater;
  • $6.3 billion for drinking water;
  • $2.5 billion for water reuse;
  • $1.7 billion for stormwater; and
  • $1.7 billion for combination projects.

At a glance, projects were given loans ranging between $16 million to $700 million, with 19 projects receiving loans under $100 million. The report adds that 78% of these loans are still under construction.

A full 2020 report can be viewed here.

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A full list of WIFIA closed loans can also be viewed here.

Tagged categories: Environmental Controls; Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); EPA; Funding; Grants; Infrastructure; Infrastructure; non-potable water; potable water; Program/Project Management; Stormwater; Wastewater Plants; Water/Wastewater


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