WASD awarded a $424 million WIFIA loan to fund treatment plant upgrades

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has allocated an additional $424 million through a low-interest WIFIA loan to the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department (WASD) — raising the department’s total in federal funding to nearly $1.1 billion during the last 30 months — that will finance vital upgrades to its Central and North District Wastewater Treatment Plants.

WASD is the only utility in the nation to receive four consecutive WIFIA loans since the inception of this program.

“Partnering with the EPA and utilizing their WIFIA loans allows us to accelerate wastewater projects, which demonstrate that investments in infrastructure can provide economic, environmental and employment benefits for our community,” said Roy Coley, WASD director. “We not only look for innovative ways to implement new technologies as part of our Capital Improvement Program (CIP) projects, but we are just as committed to employing inventive financing opportunities. This allows our department to be a responsible steward of not only our natural resources, but also our customers’ financial investments.”

WASD will use the $424 million low-interest loan to fund nearly half of a $866 million upgrade to the department’s Central and North District wastewater treatment plants to meet compliance requirements of the Ocean Outfall Legislation Program, a statewide directive to reduce nutrient discharges to the ocean and promote water reuse alternatives. Projects include the construction of deep injection wells, monitoring wells and other facilities that aid in higher level wastewater treatment processes.

“Congratulations to our partners at Miami-Dade County on closing your fourth WIFIA loan — a first for this low-interest loan program,” said Radhika Fox, EPA assistant administrator for water. “This project will improve water quality for wildlife and recreation and bolster climate resiliency while creating 2,700 quality jobs. These benefits for Miami-Dade County exemplify what the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal can deliver for communities across the country.”

Department upgrades also include essential facility hardening that take sea level rise into account, resulting in improved site resiliency ensuring continued service reliability even during severe weather events.

“Investing and updating our county’s treatment plants allows us to continue delivering reliable service to our community while also safeguarding the bay, protecting our clean water, and building for a more resilient future — and at the same time creating jobs for our residents,” said Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. “These upgrades are investments in the future health and prosperity of our community for decades to come. I’m grateful to the EPA and Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox, a long-time fellow water warrior, for these key investments in the future of Miami-Dade.”

This WIFIA loan will create 226 direct jobs related to the construction projects. The funding of these projects through a low-interest loan rather than other funding options will save customers $88 million throughout the life of the loan, reducing future rate increases.

To date, WASD’s four WIFIA loans have totaled nearly $1.1 billion and will finance approximately $2.2 billion worth of projects within the department’s multi-billion-dollar CIP, create 760 direct jobs and save ratepayers approximately $297 million in interest for the life of these loans when compared to other financing options.

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