WA Preparing Wastewater Resilience Projects

FRIDAY, APRIL 19, 2024

Last month, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Acting Assistant Administrator for Water Bruno Pigott announced a $194 million loan to King County, Washington, from the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act

The loan is reportedly the first installment of funding for King County under a new master agreement with the EPA to provide almost $500 million in low-interest funding for water infrastructure projects. 

About the Projects

Most of the recent WIFIA loan is expected to go towards several clean-water investments at the West Point Treatment Plant, which cleans wastewater and stormwater. According to the release, the loan will support critical wastewater infrastructure updates to improve the system’s reliability, while protecting the Puget Sound.

Upcoming improvements at the treatment plant reportedly inlude removing corroded pipes, upgrading raw sewage pumps and implementing structural upgrades to the administrative building for future seismic events. Additionally, West Point stated that it will work to protect Puget Sound, a culturally important waterbody to Coast Salish Tribes, and better manage the potentially intense and frequent daily and peak flows.

“Making critical improvements in wastewater infrastructure is vital to protecting communities and the environment from pollution emergencies,” said U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell.

“The investment being made to the West Point Wastewater Treatment plant will allow the largest wastewater facility in the state of Washington make needed upgrades to help it safely serve the growing Seattle region and protect against untreated wastewater discharges that can harm the Puget Sound ecosystem.”

With the new $194 million loan, King County expects to save $19.8 million in interest fees and create about 1,500 jobs. Additionally, the extended repayment period will reportedly work to reduce the county’s annual debt payments.

This is reportedly the first WIFIA loan under a master agreement and will commit a total of $498.3 million to speed up the implementation of the county’s Wastewater 2024 Improvement Project. Future financing will reportedly work to aid other critical projects across the regional wastewater system.

“Puget Sound is a national treasure, and King County has a responsibility to protect and improve water quality for people, salmon and orcas,” said Kamuron Gurol, King County Wastewater Treatment Division Director. “We need and appreciate this package from our federal partners so that our ratepayers aren’t left alone to shoulder the burden of these clean-water investments.”

According to a release from King County, the funding will go towards 14 different projects, which include:

  • The Eastside Interceptor Section 8 Rehabilitation, which will see the repair of one of the largest conveyance pipes in the system in Bellevue that is nearing the end of its service life;
  • The Lake Hills and Northwest Lake Sammamish Interceptor Upgrade, which will install 4.5 miles of sewer pipe serving Redmond and Bellevue;
  • The Sammamish Plateau Diversion, which will add capacity to treat wastewater flow from East Lake Sammamish area;
  • The West Point Treatment Plant Primary Raw Sewage Pump Replacement, which will replace the original raw sewage pump system and makes seismic upgrades to the pump building at the plant, located in the Magnolia neighborhood of Seattle; and
  • The South Treatment Plant Influent Pump Station Seismic Upgrades, which will protect the Renton-based plant from large seismic events.

King County has reportedly used resources from the WIFIA twice before for other projects. In 2018, it reportedly received $134.5 million to improve stormwater treatment with the Georgetown Wet Weather Treatment Station. Additionally, the county was awarded $96.8 million in 2019 to build an underground storage tunnel for the Ship Canal Water Quality Project with Seattle Public Utilities.

The project aims to make improvements at the treatment plant, which include removing corroded pipes, upgrading raw sewage pumps and implementing structural upgrades to the administrative building for future seismic events.

“EPA’s WIFIA loans have a track record of success and nowhere is that clearer than here in King County, where two loans have already reduced the amounts of sewage and untreated stormwater entering local waterways,” said Pigott.

“This $194 million loan is just the latest in the Biden-Harris Administration’s Investing in America Agenda. Through WIFIA and with $50 billion for water under President Biden’s infrastructure law, EPA is making unprecedented investments and making strides toward a clean and safe water future for all communities.”

The announcement for the new funding was reportedly made at an event at the West Point Treatment Plant in King County. Pigott was joined by EPA Region 10 Administrator Casey Sixkiller and King County Executive Daw Constantine in celebrating the news.

"The Biden administration is once again demonstrating its strong commitment to protecting the natural environment throughout the country, including one of the nation’s premier waterbodies, the Puget Sound,” said Constantine.

“Earning a half-billion-dollar commitment for clean-water infrastructure reflects King County’s reputation as a trusted fiscal and environmental steward, producing the best results for each public dollar we invest for people, salmon, and orcas.”

The county added that the recent loan period has been the most productive five-year period for improvements since the regional treatment system was built in the 1960s.

The Wastewater Treatment Division has reportedly improved dozens of capital projects in the past, including seismic upgrades, replacing aging pumps and pipes and building a 24,000-square-foot structure at West Point Treatment Plant to house 80,000 pounds of high-voltage batteries, providing operators with a more reliable power supply.

Since its creation, the EPA’s WIFIA program has reportedly announced over $20 billion in financing to support over $43 billion in water infrastructure projects that aim to improve drinking water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure while creating over 140,000 jobs.

Other Water Announcements

In March 2023, the EPA announced over $2.4 billion from the bipartisan infrastructure law for the Clean Water State Revolving Funding to upgrade water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure.

According to the EPA, nearly half of the funding would also go towards underserved communities while investing in both water infrastructure and jobs.

The CWSRF is a financial assistance program for a wide range of water infrastructure projects under the Clean Water Act, providing loans to eligible recipients to:

  • Construct municipal wastewater facilities;
  • Control nonpoint sources of pollution;
  • Build decentralized wastewater treatment systems;
  • Create green infrastructure projects;
  • Protect estuaries; and
  • Fund other water quality projects.

This CWSRF funding reportedly built on the initial allotment of $1.9 billion from the bipartisan infrastructure law announced in May 2022. The money was reportedly supporting hundreds of critical water infrastructure projects around the country.

For the proceeding several years, the bipartisan infrastructure law announced plans to make over $50 billion available for water and wastewater infrastructure to address key challenges, including climate change and emerging contaminants like per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

In addition to the announcement, the EPA reported that the 2023 Drinking Water State Revolving Fund allocations and program updates were anticipated in the following weeks, pending completion of the seventh Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment.


Tagged categories: Environmental Control; Environmental Controls; Environmental Protection; Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Funding; Grants; Green Infrastructure; Health & Safety; Health and safety; Infrastructure; Infrastructure; NA; non-potable water; North America; Ongoing projects; potable water; Program/Project Management; Quality control; Safety; Stormwater; Water/Wastewater

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