DALLAS – (Feb. 7, 2019) 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 jumpstart 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.”
“Investing in water infrastructure returns a benefit for all facets of a community—families, businesses, and the environment,” said Region 6 Regional Administrator Anne Idsal. “Through EPA’s state revolving loan funds, we can help cities and towns of all sizes improve their water systems, increase capacity and reliability, and grow their economies.”
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by working to get the financing, tools, and resources EPA’s state, local, tribal, and other partners need to modernize outdated water infrastructure, while improving local water quality, creating jobs, and better protecting public health.
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.
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.
• In Oklahoma, the city of Enid Municipal Authority was selected to apply for a $53 million loan to fund the Kaw Lake Alternative Water Supply Project. The project includes a new water-treatment plant and improvements to the distribution system.
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.
In FY2018, EPA awarded nearly $270 million to SRFs in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas; more than $2 million to tribes in Region 6; and more than $5.8 million to the North American Development Bank to support infrastructure projects in the U.S./Mexico border area.
• In Arkansas, the city of Eudora used $6.5 million in loans and loan forgiveness to replace and upgrade the water system, including improvements at the water treatment plant. The city of Westfork completed a project in August to improve the sewer system using $800,000 in SRF loans.
• In Louisiana, the town of New Llano used $1.3 million to build new water wells, storage tanks, service pumps, a transmission line and treatment equipment. The city of West Monroe installed solar panels on its wastewater treatment plant with a $1.5 million loan.
• In New Mexico, the city of Portales constructed a new nutrient removal wastewater treatment plant with $26.5 million in assistance, one of the largest state investments in a water facility in New Mexico’s history. The city of Aztec used nearly $4 million to upgrade its wastewater collection system.
• In Oklahoma, a loan of $35.8 million to the Oklahoma City Water Utilities Trust funded two significant projects: improvements to the Draper Water Treatment Plant, including a new residuals facility and storage structures; and upgrades at the Hefner Water Treatment Plant, including a new chemical storage and feed facility that helped increase capacity to 150 million gallons per day.
• In Texas, a $48 million loan helped the city of Houston replace water mains in areas with a history of repair requests, low pressure, and water quality complaints, and funded replacement of 1,975 obsolete or malfunctioning water meters. The city of Comanche used $1 million to upgrade the city’s aging wastewater treatment plant, which will help eliminate sanitary sewer overflows.
EPA Region 6 also continues its strong partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). Working together, EPA and USACE ensured new large water-supply projects would move forward. The Lower Bois d’Arc Creek Reservoir, when completed, will yield an estimated 175,000 acre-feet of drinking water per year for North Texas consumers. The Turkey Peak water supply expansion project in Palo Pinto County, Texas, will nearly double capacity for residential and business customers.