WIFIA loan supports essential improvements to DC’s water system at affordable cost
Today, at an event with Washington D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser, U.S. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C. Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, DC Water Chief Executive Officer and General Manager David L. Gadis, and other local officials, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael S. Regan announced a $156M Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan to the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (DC Water). This loan will help finance water infrastructure improvements throughout the city, including new water mains to improve drinking water quality and reduce service disruptions resulting from breaks in aged pipes.
“EPA’s WIFIA program demonstrates that investments in water infrastructure—just like those called for under the American Jobs Plan—can help our nation build back stronger while supporting lower income communities and communities of color,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “DC Water’s improvement projects will revitalize water infrastructure in this historic city and EPA’s WIFIA loan will provide significant cost-savings—providing a win-win for local communities.”
DC Water serves more than 700,000 residents, including many lower income communities and communities of color. EPA’s WIFIA loan provides significant cost-savings—helping DC Water meet its water affordability goals. DC Water’s Comprehensive Infrastructure Repair, Rehabilitation and Replacement Program will cost $319M and EPA’s WIFIA loan will finance nearly half of that figure—saving DC Water an estimated $30M. These savings can be passed on to customers through continued service improvements from additional infrastructure investment or greater rate stability throughout the life of the loan. Additionally, with the savings realized from the low costs associated with the WIFIA loan, DC Water is able to continue its support for assistance programs to help customers in need.
“Especially right now, it is critical that we are able to continue making progress on projects that improve our region’s infrastructure and help us build a more resilient city – and to be able to do so without creating a new financial burden for residents, especially those who have been hit the hardest by this pandemic,” said D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. “We thank the Biden Administration and Administrator Regan for recognizing this need and for investing in our shared goal to build back better.”
“Today’s news will have a real impact on District residents and visitors. With this federal loan, DC Water will be able to improve service, pass on savings to their customers and put greater investment into clean infrastructure,” said U.S. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton. “Improvements to our stormwater management system will have the added benefit of helping us achieve another goal of mine, making our rivers fishable and swimmable again.”
“Environmental justice has been a top priority of mine since I was first elected to the Council. The $156M WIFIA loan to DC will fund initiatives that increase public health protections through improved water quality, cut costs for consumers, and protect our rivers from sewage contamination,” said Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie. “These are significant wins for District residents.”
“Rebuilding our infrastructure and providing District residents, businesses and visitors with the highest quality drinking water and wastewater treatment is our top focus,” said DC Water CEO and General Manager David L. Gadis. “This funding provides for a system-wide comprehensive infrastructure repair, rehabilitation, and replacement program. It funds small-diameter water main replacements, wastewater treatment plant upgrades, and sewer rehabilitation projects—all necessary for us to provide critical services that are vital to public health.”
“These low-interest funds help us advance critical infrastructure projects, providing much-needed upgrades and rehabilitation to the District’s water, sewer, and wastewater treatment facilities and infrastructure,” said DC Water Chief Financial Officer Matthew Brown. “At the same time, paying lower interest rates on loans saves us money on debt service that we can pass along to customers in the form of less steep rate increases.”
DC Water’s Comprehensive Infrastructure Repair, Rehabilitation, and Replacement Program will advance infrastructure projects that will increase public health protection and benefit water quality in local rivers. Upgrades to water mains and pumps throughout the system will improve drinking water distribution for better public health protection. The project will also protect the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers from sewage contamination by upgrading stormwater management systems and collecting and treating wastewater at the Blue Plains Treatment Plant. The program includes a combination of 20 drinking water and wastewater projects to rehabilitate, upgrade, and/or replace aging infrastructure throughout the system. Project construction and operation are expected to create more than 1,000 jobs.
With EPA’s WIFIA loan to DC Water, and two other WIFIA loans announced today, the agency has announced 49 WIFIA loans that are providing over $9.3B in credit assistance to help finance nearly $20B for water infrastructure while creating approximately 49,000 jobs and saving ratepayers over $4B.
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.
For more information, visit https://www.epa.gov/wifia.