EPA Announces $75 Million WIFIA Loan to Mitigate Flood Risk in Howard County, Maryland
WASHINGTON — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a $75 million Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan to Howard County, Maryland, to support the Ellicott City Safe and Sound Plan projects. EPA’s WIFIA loan will help Howard County implement a comprehensive plan to preserve historic Main Street by upgrading water infrastructure for flood resilience.
“The people of Ellicott City have endured severe flooding and know all too well how disastrous it can be when water infrastructure fails,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox. “Through WIFIA, EPA is investing in climate resilience to protect residents, businesses, property, and the history of this charming city. The agency is also working to deliver the benefits of water infrastructure investments to more communities with $50 billion through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.”
“Historic flooding has been occurring routinely in Ellicott City. But it doesn’t have to be that way and local leaders are taking the right steps to improve flood resilience and protect local homes and businesses,” said Senator Ben Cardin, Chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee. “Team Maryland will continue working to secure federal water infrastructure resources for Ellicott City and across Maryland.”
“Severe flooding has wreaked havoc on Ellicott City, impacting its residents and the businesses that make up this historic treasure. Following these floods, we committed to bringing the community solutions to mitigate the risks of extreme weather and better prepare for the future. This investment is a result of that work and partnership,” said Senator Chris Van Hollen. “Not only will this project help protect residents and local businesses during severe weather events, but also it will preserve Ellicott City’s important cultural and historic Main Street – the heart of this community for generations to come.”
“Ellicott City is a proud, tenacious community. As our country increasingly faces extreme weather events due to climate change, Ellicott City is leading the way in repairing the damage from the past and making cities safer for the future,” said Representative John Sarbanes (MD-3). “With state and federal dollars – like the funds announced today – and local engagement and collaboration, the North Tunnel will reduce flooding, protect residents and businesses and preserve this community’s rich history for generations to come.”
Howard County is pursuing the comprehensive Ellicott City Safe and Sound Plan after experiencing several devastating 1000-year floods between 2016 and 2018. The plan’s projects will greatly reduce the impact of flooding in Ellicott City by providing resilient infrastructure, managing stream debris, and increasing green space. The projects include construction of dry flood mitigation facilities, improvements to flood mitigation for the Lower Main Street area, planning and hydraulic modeling efforts, and construction of a tunnel that will intercept stormwater from the Hudson Branch to the Patapsco River. By implementing these projects, Howard County will protect Ellicott City’s public safety, preserve the historic and cultural value of Main Street, and encourage economic development.
“The Environmental Protection Agency and our federal delegation are incredible partners in our efforts to implement an effective flood mitigation plan for Ellicott City, making our community Safe and Sound,” said Howard County Executive Calvin Ball. “Building resiliency so our historic community can thrive and withstand future challenges has been an important priority, and $167 million have been dedicated in federal, state and local funds over several years to implement our plan. We completed alert systems and are building water retention areas, and will now be able to move ahead on an innovative tunnel project that will help reduce the level of storm water threatening homes and buildings. We are grateful to all who are working together to accomplish these important goals.”
Howard County will save approximately $13 million by financing with WIFIA loans. Construction is expected to be completed in 2026, and construction and operation are estimated to create approximately 900 jobs.
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 will prioritize projects that help achieve the goals of President Biden’s Justice40 initiative, which aims to ensure that federal agencies deliver at least 40% of benefits from certain investments to underserved communities.
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 85 WIFIA loans that are providing $15 billion in credit assistance to help finance approximately $32 billion for water infrastructure while creating approximately 97,000 jobs and saving ratepayers over $5 billion.
Learn more about the WIFIA program.
For more information about the WIFIA program’s accomplishments through 2021.