The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a $96.8 million Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan to King County Washington that will reduce sewer overflows to protect water quality in the Puget Sound and a key local tributary, the Lake Washington Ship Canal.
“EPA built a great financing tool for investing in America’s water infrastructure when it stood up the WIFIA program,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “This WIFIA loan will help King County better manage stormwater during heavy rain events—meaning fewer sewer overflows and less pollution entering the Puget Sound.”
EPA’s WIFIA loan will help finance the design and construction of a massive underground storage tank that will capture and store untreated stormwater and sewage from heavy storms until it can be treated at the West Point Treatment Plant. This project will substantially improve water quality in the Ship Canal by reducing sewer overflows at six locations and preventing reducing stormwater discharges.
WIFIA is providing financial support at a critical time as the federal government, EPA, and the water sector work together to help mitigate the public health and financial impacts of COVID-19
“We’re proud to help King County realize its dream to protect the Sound by making this investment in the future,” said Chris Hladick, EPA Regional Administrator in Seattle. “Without adequate wastewater treatment capacity, no county or municipality can hope to meet the needs of growing communities and a thriving business and industrial base. WIFIA loans are crucially important to big local projects that protect our natural resources, deliver good-paying jobs and build stronger, more resilient economies.”
“The Ship Canal Water Quality project is not only an important infrastructure investment to help protect the environment and improve water quality in Puget Sound, it will also bolster the regional economy by creating over 630 new construction jobs,” said King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks Director Christie True. “WIFIA financing helps make the most of ratepayer investments by saving over $15.5 million.”
This is King County’s second WIFIA loan. In 2017, EPA issued a $134.5 million WIFIA loan to King County for the Georgetown Wet Weather Treatment Station, which treats up to 70 million gallons of combined rain and wastewater a day that would otherwise have discharged directly to the Duwamish during storm events.
WIFIA is providing financial support at a critical time as the federal government, EPA, and the water sector work together to help mitigate the public health and financial impacts of COVID-19. This project will cost $197.6 million and EPA’s WIFIA loan will finance nearly half of that figure. The remaining project funds will come from a Washington Clean Water State Revolving Fund loan, revenue bonds, and system funds. This WIFIA loan will save King County an estimated $34 million. Project construction and operation are expected to create more than 600 jobs. Since the beginning of March 2020, WIFIA has announced 27 loans and updated seven existing loans with lower interest rates. These recent announcements will save ratepayers over $1.5 billion. Since the first WIFIA loan was closed in 2018, EPA has announced 43 WIFIA loans that are providing $7.9 billion in credit assistance to help finance $17.1 billion for water infrastructure while creating more than 39,900 jobs and saving ratepayers $3.7 billion.
Background on WIFIA
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.T