EPA Announces $275 Million WIFIA Loan to Improve Water Infrastructure in New Orleans, Louisiana
Nationally, 64 WIFIA loans are financing over $26 billion in water infrastructure upgrades, creating 74,000 jobs
WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a $275 million Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan to the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans to modernize the city’s aging and storm-damaged sewer system. With EPA’s WIFIA financing, this project will help protect historically underserved communities from the impacts of storm events and climate change.
“Earlier this year, President Biden visited New Orleans and heard firsthand about the challenges with water infrastructure. Today, we are proud to partner with the city through WIFIA,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox. “This low-cost loan will save the city money while supporting critical upgrades to bolster climate resiliency and better protect vulnerable communities. This project illustrates the critical water infrastructure improvements that will be achieved under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.”
“This is great news for the city and people of New Orleans,” said U.S. Representative Troy A. Carter Sr., who represents much of the city in Congress. “Here in Louisiana, we depend on our critical water infrastructure to keep us safe and healthy, especially when the storms come. It is long past time that we invest in the safety, longevity, and resiliency of our water and sewage management systems, and I am proud that the federal government is a strong partner on this critical issue. With this $275 million WIFIA loan along with the critical funds from the recently passed Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we can make the needed investments for lasting improvements in our water infrastructure.”
“New Orleans is a historic city on the front lines of climate change, and this investment is a milestone that was initiated two years ago,” said Sewerage and Water Board President and New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “The City of New Orleans has demonstrated time and time again that we are well-equipped to activate the federal resources flowing to our city, and no city is better prepared to put this funding to use than New Orleans. The work we complete with this loan will make New Orleans both more resilient and more equitable.”
EPA’s WIFIA loan will help finance the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans’ comprehensive Sewer System Evaluation and Rehabilitation Program that will undertake over 160 projects to modernize aging and storm-damaged sewer pipelines throughout the city. The projects are designed to be climate resilient. They will reduce inflow and saltwater infiltration, prevent breaks and leaks in sewer lines, and help maintain existing infrastructure during wet weather events. Together, they will vastly improve the city’s sewer system infrastructure to help protect nearby waterbodies and reduce the risk of flooding in neighborhoods. As a result, the city’s sewer system infrastructure will better protect historically underserved communities during storm events.
“With the help of this WIFIA loan, we are already modernizing aging and storm-damaged pipelines. Over 160 projects will benefit, and thanks to the EPA, our customers will pay less for the repairs. In a city where one in five faces poverty, that’s critical,” said Ghassan Korban, Executive Director of the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans. “With so many projects in need of funding, we stand shovel-ready to harden our city’s infrastructure.”
“Sewer and storm water infrastructure upgrades are critical to the City of New Orleans and to the state of Louisiana,” said Dr. Chuck Carr Brown, Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality Secretary. “LDEQ supports EPA in all efforts to assist.”
The $275 million WIFIA loan will finance nearly half of the $561 million project costs. Recognizing both the need for critical infrastructure investment and the water affordability challenges facing the community, the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans took advantage of the WIFIA program’s flexible repayment terms to save approximately $100 million. Project construction and operation are expected to create an estimated 1,800 jobs and construction is expected to be completed in 2025.
For more information about the WIFIA program, visit: https://www.epa.gov/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. With this WIFIA loan closing, EPA has announced 64 WIFIA loans that are providing $12 billion in credit assistance to help finance approximately over $26 billion for water infrastructure while creating over 74,000 jobs and saving ratepayers over $4.5 billion.