LENEXA, KS — As highlighted in President Trump’s State of the Union address and in support of the President’s Infrastructure Initiative, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has accelerated investment in the nation’s aging water infrastructure.
“EPA is delivering on President Trump’s promise to jump-start critical infrastructure projects that will not only enhance environmental protections but also grow the economy,” said EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Under President Trump, EPA has issued seven WIFIA loans to help finance over $4 billion in water infrastructure projects that will improve water quality and create up to 6,000 jobs. By clearly defining where federal jurisdiction begins and ends, our new proposed Waters of the U.S. definition will provide states and the private sector the regulatory certainty they need to develop and streamline projects that will modernize our nation’s aging infrastructure.”
Over the past year, EPA has moved President Trump’s infrastructure agenda forward by working to get the financing, tools and resources EPA’s state, local, tribal and other partners need to modernize outdated water infrastructure while improving local water quality, creating jobs and better protecting public health.
“Supporting states in their efforts to modernize and upgrade water infrastructure is key to providing Americans with clean and safe water and protecting public health and the environment,” said Region 7 Administrator Jim Gulliford. “The SRF programs have historically been the primary source of funds to support states and needed infrastructure improvements. With the addition of WIFIA, significant additional funding has been made available. EPA is committed to supporting the states and their public and private infrastructure programs and assuring that the highest health and environmental standards possible are achieved.”
Together with the agency’s state, local, tribal and other partners, EPA achieved the following major water infrastructure accomplishments in 2018:
Established by the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) of 2014, EPA’s WIFIA program is the agency’s newest water financing program, which provides long-term, low-cost supplemental loans for regionally and nationally significant projects. In 2018, EPA issued seven WIFIA loans totaling nearly $2 billion to help finance over $4 billion for water infrastructure projects and create up to 6,000 jobs. In November 2018, EPA invited 39 additional projects in 16 states and Washington, D.C. to apply for a WIFIA loan. Together, these selected borrowers will receive WIFIA loans totaling approximately $5 billion to help finance over $10 billion in water infrastructure investments and create up to 155,000 jobs.
Omaha, Neb. and St. Louis, Mo. were two communities in Region 7 awarded WIFIA loans in 2018. The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District received $47.7 million to help construct a new pump station and replace or rehabilitate sewer pipes to address overflows and improve the water quality in Deer Creek. This project will provide storage for excessive inflow and infiltration during wet weather events, alleviate basement backups, and save the district an estimated $15 million by financing with a WIFIA loan compared to a bond issuance. The City of Omaha’s Saddle Creek Retention Treatment Basin Project received $69.7 million to help finance the construction of a wastewater pump station. This project will decrease the number of overflow events into Little Papillion Creek and reduce the volume of untreated combined sewer overflow and E. coli bacteria entering the waterway, all while saving the City of Omaha nearly $20 million in interest costs.
Five additional projects in EPA Region 7 have submitted letters of interest in applying for WIFIA loans as well: Kansas City, St. Louis, and Joplin, Mo., and Wichita and Frontenac, Kan. EPA has offered these communities the opportunity to discuss and negotiate loans supporting up to 51 percent of their project costs. Combined, these five projects could receive WIFIA loans totaling approximately $513 million in water infrastructure investments serving a population of more than 2.3 million.
State Revolving Funds
The Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (SRFs) play an integral role in EPA’s efforts to help communities replace or upgrade aging or inadequate drinking water and wastewater infrastructure through low-interest loans. Together, in 2018, the SRFs committed $9.6 billion in drinking water and clean water infrastructure loans and refinancing and disbursed $8.8 billion for drinking water and clean water infrastructure. This level of funding was facilitated through EPA’s contribution of $2.2 billion to the state revolving funds in 2018.
Region 7 EPA works closely with the states of Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska in the implementation of the SRF program. In 2018, Region 7 states received over $150 million in SRF funding from Congress that helped finance 339 loan agreements for water quality projects totaling $408 million.
In addition to funding large-scale infrastructure projects, EPA has also taken a leading role in the administration’s initiative to promote greater efficiencies in the infrastructure permitting process. These actions include working to provide a clear and predictable approach to identifying waters that are subject to federal authority through the Department of the Army’s and EPA’s proposed “Waters of the United States” rulemaking, implementation of the administration’s One Federal Decision initiative and through other improvements to the Clean Water Act permitting process. EPA will take these actions by cooperatively working with its state and tribal co-regulators with a goal of streamlining environmental permitting and increasing investments in critical water and other infrastructure projects.
For more information on the President’s Infrastructure Initiative, visit https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/building-stronger-america-president-donald-j-trumps-american-infrastructure-initiative/.
For more information about EPA’s WIFIA program, visit https://www.epa.gov/wifia
For more information on the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, visit https://www.epa.gov/cwsrf
For more information on the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, visit https://www.epa.gov/drinkingwatersrf