EPA selects 12 entities for first WIFIA applications

The Baltimore City Department of Public Works is one of 12 entities invited by EPA to apply for a $200 million federal loan to improve its water infrastructure.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has invited 12 projects in nine states to apply for Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loans. These potential applicants were selected from a group of projects that represent large and small communities from across the United States that submitted letters of interest to EPA in April 2017.

In FY2017, the WIFIA program received $25 million in funding, including an additional $8 million in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017 that President Donald Trump signed into law on May 5, 2017. This year’s projects will also leverage more than $1 billion in private capital and other funding sources including EPA’s State Revolving Fund (SRF) loans, to help finance a total of $5.1 billion in water infrastructure investments. The selected projects demonstrate the broad range of project types that the WIFIA program can finance including wastewater, drinking water, stormwater, and water recycling projects.

“Rebuilding America’s infrastructure is a critical pillar of the President’s agenda,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “These large-scale projects will improve water quality for 20 million Americans, especially those communities that need it the most – such as rural and urban communities.”

EPA received 43 letters of interest from both public and private entities in response to the 2017 WIFIA Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA). After a robust, statutorily required review process, the WIFIA Selection Committee chose the following 12 prospective borrowers projects to submit applications for loans:

  1. Miami-Dade County, Florida – Ocean Outfall Discharge Reduction and Resiliency Enhancement Project.
  2. San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, California — Southeast Water Pollution Control Plant Biosolids Digester Facilities Project.
  3. Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District, Missouri — Deer Creek Sanitary Tunnel and Sanitary Relief.
  4. City of Omaha, Nebraska — Saddle Creek Combined Sewer Overflow Retention Treatment Basin.
  5. Orange County Water District, California — Groundwater Replenishment System Final Expansion.
  6. City of San Diego, California — Pure Water San Diego.
  7. Indiana Finance Authority, Indiana — Indiana Finance Authority FY 2017.
  8. King County, Washington — Georgetown Wet Weather Treatment Station.
  9. Baltimore City Department of Public Works, Maryland — Comprehensive Infrastructure Repair, Rehabilitation and Replacement Program.
  10. Maine Water Company, Maine — Saco River Water Treatment Facility. (Private)
  11. City of Morro Bay, California — Water Reclamation Facility Project. (Small Community)
  12. City of Oak Ridge, Tennessee — Water Treatment Plant Design and Construction.

The Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act established by Congress in 2014 requires EPA to follow a selection framework that includes an assessment of letters of interest by performing an eligibility screening, a preliminary creditworthiness assessment, and an evaluation of the selection criteria. The WIFIA program selection criteria and respective weights are available in the WIFIA Handbook (Appendix C, page 53).

“It’s encouraging to see such a wide range of water infrastructure projects in the pool of applicants,” said Tracy Mehan, AWWA Executive Director of Government Affairs. “WIFIA loans will spur on critical projects that might otherwise have been deferred and ultimately save money for water customers.”

AWWA is the chief architect of the WIFIA program and cheered the news in April that 43 entities had expressed interested in WIFIA loans in its first year of funding. Modeled after the successful Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, WIFIA leverages federal dollars so that for every dollar Congress appropriates, 50 to 60 dollars are expected to be loaned out.

Some of the projects that WIFIA enables EPA to provide assistance for include:

  • Drinking water treatment and distribution projects;
  • Wastewater conveyance and treatment projects;
  • Enhanced energy efficiency projects at drinking water and wastewater facilities;
  • Desalination, aquifer recharge, alternative water supply and water recycling projects; and
  • Drought prevention, reduction or mitigation projects.

EPA evaluates projects using criteria such as the extent to which the project is nationally or regionally significant, helps maintain or protect public health or the environment, protects against extreme weather, and serves regions with significant water resource challenges. EPA will make selections on a competitive basis.

The House appropriations subcommittee that provides funding for EPA approved legislation last week that would maintain current levels of funding for the Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund program and WIFIA.

For more information about the WIFIA program, visit: https://www.epa.gov/wifia.

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