Biden-Harris Administration Announces $16 Million WIFIA Loan for Water System Reliability in Oregon | US EPA
WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a $16 million Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan to Oregon City, Oregon. This funding will modernize century-old infrastructure to meet the drinking water needs of the city’s 37,000 residents while better preparing the community for wildfires. Since its creation, EPA’s WIFIA program has announced $19 billion in financing to support 110 projects that are strengthening drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure while creating over 60,000 jobs.
“Through our WIFIA loan program, the Biden-Harris Administration is making critical investments in water infrastructure in communities across the country,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “Oregon City – like other cities that have received WIFIA funding – is prioritizing upgrading outdated water infrastructure and securing its water system against threats such as cyber-attacks and wildfires, ensuring clean, safe, and reliable access to water for generations to come.”
Located in a wildfire-prone region, Oregon City currently relies on infrastructure that is over 100 years old to meet local demand. This WIFIA loan accelerates investment to modernize aging, high-risk water pipes, some of which are lined with cast iron and asbestos. By improving this infrastructure, the city will be able to meet peak demands that meet the fire department’s water pressure and flow needs. Additionally, this loan is enabling the city to enhance the water system’s cybersecurity through a new computer system. By completing these projects, the city will improve the reliability and resiliency of its drinking water service to meet the everyday needs of its residents and be more prepared for wildfires and other potential service disruptions.
“I created the WIFIA program to invest in water infrastructure projects and job creation after hearing from local Oregon leaders that water infrastructure is one of the top issues facing their communities,” said Senator Jeff Merkley. “This WIFIA funding through the EPA will help Oregon City improve their water infrastructure and strengthen the city’s resilience to wildfire. WIFIA continues to be a great model for delivering results through local and federal collaboration.”
“With voter approval combined with federal grant funds made available from the American Rescue Act, the City was able to pursue and secure a loan through the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA),” said Special Projects Senior Engineer and Project Manager for the City and the WIFIA Program Manager Patty Nelson. “Funding will allow the city to address cyber security, rehabilitate and replace aging infrastructure and improve water transmission in the system to better serve its customers now and in the future.”
“The voters of Oregon City also get the credit for making this project possible,” said Oregon City Mayor Denyse McGriff. “If it weren’t for their approval, we wouldn’t have been able to take advantage of the WIFIA program.”
Through the WIFIA program, Oregon City is accelerating investment in its water system while saving rate payers money. The city will increase capital investment in the next two years by 300% and save approximately $3 million. Investing in water infrastructure will create nearly 200 construction and operation jobs.
Established by the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 2014, the WIFIA program is a federal loan program administered by EPA. The WIFIA program’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.
EPA recently announced the availability of an additional $7.5 million in WIFIA funding for 2023. This new funding builds off the success of previous WIFIA funding rounds, totaling $33 billion, and will allow EPA to finance even more high priority water infrastructure projects. The Agency is currently accepting letters of interest for WIFIA and SWIFIA loans on a rolling basis. Learn more about submitting a letter of interest for a WIFIA loan.
In addition to WIFIA loans, there are many federal funding resources available for communities and utilities to improve vital water and wastewater resources. President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is a once-in-a-generation investment in the nation’s infrastructure and competitiveness. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides a historic $50 billion investment in upgrading critical water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure.
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