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EPA Announces $192 Million Water Infrastructure Loan to Reduce Sewer Overflows in Seattle

04/28/2020
Contact Information: 
EPA Press Office (press@epa.gov)

WASHINGTON (April 28, 2020) — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a $192.2 million Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan to Seattle Public Utilities in Washington state to help finance the Ship Canal Water Quality Project. This project will reduce combined sewer overflows to support public health, ecosystems and the economy in the Seattle metropolitan area.

“Through WIFIA, EPA is delivering on President Trump’s commitment to upgrade our nation’s infrastructure, create jobs and safeguard public health and the environment,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “With this loan closing, EPA has now issued 19 WIFIA loans totaling $4.2 billion in credit assistance to help finance $9.4 billion for water infrastructure projects while creating 19,000 jobs.”

“A lot of people talk about investing in utilities and infrastructure, but EPA brings money to the table,” said Chris Hladick, EPA Regional Administrator in Seattle. “By helping cities and counties get these big, expensive projects constructed through loans and grants, we improve water quality and protect the environment in profound ways. Investing in clean water pays undeniable dividends for decades to come.”

The Ship Canal Water Quality Project will build a storage tunnel to reduce the number and volume of combined sewer overflows that enter the Lake Washington Ship Canal from Ballard, Fremont, Wallingford, and Queen Anne. The project includes a 29 million-gallon storage tunnel, six structures to divert combined sewage away from existing outfalls into the tunnel, five drop structures to move combined sewage into the storage tunnel, and odor control systems.

“This loan helps us meet our commitments to protect local water bodies and public health,” said Mami Hara, General Manager, Seattle Public Utilities. “The project will keep 75 million gallons of polluted stormwater and sewage out of the Lake Washington Ship Canal, Salmon Bay and Lake Union each year. The WIFIA loan also supports our goals of providing more affordable services by saving an estimated $66 million in financing costs over traditional bond funding.”

The Ship Canal Water Quality Project’s eligible construction costs are $561 million. EPA’s WIFIA loan will finance a portion of that figure—up to $192.2 million. Additionally, the Washington Department of Ecology’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund will provide a $25 million loan toward the project. Construction and operation are expected to create nearly 1,300 jobs.

This is the second WIFIA loan closing in Washington state and both loans are supporting this important project. Seattle Public Utilities is the owner and operator for the project pursuant to a Joint Project Agreement with King County. WIFIA is also currently working with King County, a repeat borrower, to provide financing for their portion of this project.

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 and low-cost supplemental credit assistance for regionally and nationally significant projects. EPA’s WIFIA program plays an important part in President Trump’s infrastructure plan, which calls for expanding project eligibility. 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 about the WIFIA program's accomplishments through 2019, please see the agency's first WIFIA annual report at: https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-announces-first-wifia-annual-report-highlighting-35-billion-infrastructure-funding.

For more information about the WIFIA program, visit https://www.epa.gov/wifia.