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by working to get the financing, tools and resources EPA’s state, local, tribal and other partners need to modernize outdated water infrastructure while improving local water quality, creating jobs and better protecting public health.
“Across the Southeast, the Clean Water State Revolving Fund is helping communities like Lincoln County, Ky., address their most critical water infrastructure needs, protect public health and the environment, and support local economies,” said EPA Acting Region 4 Administrator Mary S. Walker.
One major accomplishment of local significance is the use of Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (SRFs), which 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.
The Lincoln County Sanitation District in Lincoln County, Ky. constructed a sanitary sewage system for 535 residential and 50 commercial customers that previously did not have sewer service. The new collection system was a critical upgrade because it replaced 223 failing septic tanks, 101 straight pipes, and two package treatment plants that previously discharged raw sewage. The new conveyance system was made possible through the collaboration of many supporting partners including the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority CWSR, which provided over $4 million in financing for the project.
Together with the agency’s state, local, tribal and other partners, EPA also achieved success in 2018 with the financing of large scale water infrastructure projects.
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.
EPA Region 4 remains committed to working with communities to modernize and update the country’s aging drinking water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure. In 2017, EPA invited two projects located in Region 4 to apply for a WIFIA loan and 12 additional projects in 2018. These projects are located in five different states. If projects such as these are awarded, occurrences of Combined Sewer Overflows and Sanitary Sewer Overflows will be controlled or removed. In addition, with advanced water treatment, pounds of pollution will be removed from the water and nutrient discharges reduced.
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/ .
Information from the EPA.