The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has invited the City of Oak Ridge to apply for a new federal loan program for the city’s proposed new water plant, a press release said.
The City of Oak Ridge water plant is one of 12 projects in nine states to apply for more than $2 billion in Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) Loans, the EPA said in a press release Wednesday. The projects were selected from a group of 43 projects that submitted letters of interest to EPA in April 2017.
“Rebuilding America’s infrastructure is a critical pillar of the president’s agenda,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “These large-scale projects will improve water quality for 20 million Americans, especially those communities that need it the most—such as rural and urban communities.”
The press release said the City of Oak Ridge will design and construct a new 16 million-gallons-per-day membrane treatment plant and associated equipment to replace the existing decades-old conventional treatment plant, which is currently at capacity and beyond its useful life.
Among the city’s water plant customers are Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Y-12 National Security Complex.
“This project will provide sufficient capacity to meet the city’s water needs by continuing the production and delivery of safe potable drinking water to its customers,” the EPA press release said.
It said the WIFIA program is a new federal loan and guarantee program established by the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 2014. It aims 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 press release said.
U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican, said he sent a letter to Pruitt on May 26 to express his support for the City of Oak Ridge’s efforts to build a new water treatment plant with funding through the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) Program.
“I’m glad the EPA has invited the City of Oak Ridge to apply for a WIFIA loan,” Alexander said. “Replacing the City of Oak Ridge’s existing water treatment plant is crucial not only for their 30,000 residents, but also to the daily operations of the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Y-12 National Security Complex.”
Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson said the city is proud to participate in the program as an EPA partner.
“In recent years, the City of Oak Ridge has faced a major need to replace its 80-year old water plant for purposes of safety, water quality, and energy efficiency,” Watson said. “The WIFIA loan program is the first great opportunity for our city to meet this major capital need in an affordable manner for a smaller public utility.”
The EPA press release said this year’s projects will also use more than $1 billion in private capital, in addition to other funding sources including EPA’s State Revolving Fund (SRF) loans, to help finance a total of $5.1 billion in water infrastructure investments.
“The selected projects demonstrate the broad range of project types that the WIFIA program can finance including wastewater, drinking water, stormwater, and water recycling projects,” the press release said.
EPA received 43 letters of interest from both public and private entities in response to the 2017 WIFIA Notice of Funding Availability.
“After a robust, statutorily required review process, the WIFIA Selection Committee chose the following 12 projects to submit applications for loans,” the press release said:
- Miami-Dade County, Florida—Ocean Outfall Discharge Reduction and Resiliency Enhancement Project
- San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, California—Southeast Water Pollution Control Plant Biosolids Digester Facilities Project
- Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District, Missouri—Deer Creek Sanitary Tunnel and Sanitary Relief
- City of Omaha, Nebraska—Saddle Creek Combined Sewer Overflow Retention Treatment Basin
- Orange County Water District, California—Groundwater Replenishment System Final Expansion
- City of San Diego, California—Pure Water San Diego
- Indiana Finance Authority, Indiana—Indiana Finance Authority FY 2017
- King County, Washington—Georgetown Wet Weather Treatment Station
- Baltimore City Department of Public Works, Maryland—Comprehensive Infrastructure Repair, Rehabilitation and Replacement Program
- Maine Water Company, Maine—Saco River Water Treatment Facility (private)
- City of Morro Bay, California—Water Reclamation Facility Project (small community)
- City of Oak Ridge, Tennessee—Water Treatment Plant Design and Construction
The Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act requires the EPA to follow a selection framework that includes an assessment of letters of interest by performing an eligibility screening, a preliminary creditworthiness assessment, and an evaluation of the selection criteria, the press release said. For more information about the WIFIA program, visit https://www.epa.gov/wifia.
See the EPA press release from Region 4 in Atlanta here.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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