Today, at an event with Newport News Mayor McKinley L. Price, DDS, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality Director David Paylor, and other local officials, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox announced a $477 million Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan to the Hampton Roads Sanitation District (HRSD). This loan is the second installment of a total of $1 billion in WIFIA assistance for HRSD. The WIFIA funding will help retire an 80-year-old wastewater treatment plant in an economically challenged community and replenish groundwater supplies that are threatened by sea level rise.
“I’m honored to join our partners at HRSD to announce their second WIFIA loan to benefit the Newport News community,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox. “This innovative project illustrates the promise of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal being considered by Congress to deliver the multiple benefits of investment in water infrastructure —climate resiliency, 4,000 jobs created, and environmental improvements to support a historically disadvantaged community.”
The Sustainable Water Infrastructure for Tomorrow (SWIFT) Program includes more than twenty projects across the Hampton Roads service area to upgrade existing treatment works and build full-scale SWIFT facilities that will ultimately replenish the overdrawn Potomac Aquifer with water treated to meet drinking water standards. By replenishing the Potomac Aquifer, the program will foster climate resilience by restoring water supplies, preventing saltwater intrusion, and mitigating land subsidence for the 1.7 million residents served by the water system. The program will also improve the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay by reducing 90 percent of HRSD’s wastewater discharges to the watershed.
“This $477 million dollar low-interest loan, the second installment of our $1 billion WIFIA program, will be used to build the infrastructure necessary to allow HRSD to close the Boat Harbor Treatment Plant which has served the region proudly for nearly eight decades but has reached the end of its useful life,” said Ted Henifin, General Manager of HRSD. “WIFIA, in combination with other Federally subsidized loans, will reduce HRSD’s cost to finance these critical investments by nearly $500 million over the 30 year term.”
“Newport News is pleased to work with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Hampton Roads Sanitation District to build a stronger, more environmentally friendly future for Newport News and the entire Hampton Roads region,” said Newport News Mayor McKinley L. Price, DDS. “The WIFIA program and investments from the EPA will ensure a sustainable supply of groundwater throughout Eastern Virginia for generations to come. It will also help restore the Chesapeake Bay by reducing the volume of nutrients discharged by HRSD and will slow, stop, or reverse the land subsidence caused by pumping too much water out of the Potomac Aquifer for the past 100 years. Our city is proud to support HRSD on the Sustainable Water Infrastructure for Tomorrow program, as well as other innovative projects and initiatives that impact the quality of life, as well as the health and wellbeing, of our residents.”
“SWIFT promises to be a significant element in the Commonwealth’s groundwater management strategy for all of Eastern Virginia and the closure of Boat Harbor is a critical element in HRSD’s nutrient reduction strategy, helping the Commonwealth meet our commitment to clean-up the Chesapeake Bay,” said Virginia Department of Environmental Quality Director David Paylor. “I am pleased we are able to leverage US EPA’s WIFIA funding with Clean Water Revolving Loan funding through the Virginia Resources Authority for these projects. This is a great example of how Federal, state and regional resources can work together to improve the environment and protect public health.”
EPA has committed $1 billion over ten years to fund nearly half of the $2 billion SWIFT Program through a WIFIA master agreement. This arrangement with EPA provides HRSD quick access to long-term, committed financing at extremely attractive terms, enabling HRSD to implement the ambitious SWIFT Program at the lowest cost possible to ratepayers.
The remaining project costs will be funded by State Revolving Fund funds through a similar upfront commitment as well as borrower cash. For this second tranche of the master agreement, HRSD is expected to save approximately $210 million in interest costs through its WIFIA loan. The project will decommission a wastewater treatment facility in the region and improve local environmental conditions, including by reducing odors. Construction for tranche 2 projects will occur between 2021-2029, with construction and operation expected to create an estimated 4,480 jobs.
Established by the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 2014, the WIFIA program is a federal loan and guarantee program administered by EPA. WIFIA’s aim is to accelerate investment in the nation’s water infrastructure by providing long-term, low-cost supplemental credit assistance for regionally and nationally significant projects.
The WIFIA program has an active pipeline of pending applications for projects that will result in billions of dollars in water infrastructure investment and thousands of jobs. With this WIFIA loan closing, EPA has announced 58 WIFIA loans that are providing $11.2 billion in credit assistance to help finance approximately $24 billion for water infrastructure while creating approximately 68,000 jobs and saving ratepayers over $4.3 billion.