CEDAR RAPIDS, IA — Today the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it will invite the City of Cedar Rapids to apply for a $218 million loan to upgrade its Water Pollution Control Facility (WPCF).
Nearly 70 public and private entities submitted letters of interest to apply for Water Infrastructure and Innovation Act of 2014 (WIFIA) program financing available in 2021. Following a robust, statutorily required review process, the WIFIA Selection Committee chose the Cedar Rapids project — along with 54 other projects — to submit applications for loans this year. The average loan amount in this financing cycle is approximately $93 million.
WIFIA is a federal credit program administered by EPA for eligible water and wastewater infrastructure projects. Benefits of WIFIA include low, fixed interest rates; flexible financing terms; and extended repayment periods. The program is expected to provide significant cost savings, due to historically lower interest rates when compared to traditional financing, across the first two phases of planned capital improvements projects at WPCF.
The WPFC is one of few advanced wastewater treatment facilities in the State of Iowa — capable of treating as many as 125 million gallons of residential and industrial wastewater daily. Thousands of jobs and millions of dollars of economic activity depend upon the facility.
“A key factor in the success of our city’s economic development and community development is strong infrastructure,” said Cedar Rapids City Manager Jeff Pomeranz. “Continuous improvements and upgrades to our water systems ensure we are ready to address the needs of our growing community for years to come.”
Planned improvement projects focus on solids handling and nutrient reduction at WPCF. Improvements will span four phases over the next two decades, with costs estimated to reach $427.6 million over the life of the projects. “WIFIA is an incredible tool that will allow us to save money while embarking on important clean water infrastructure upgrades. This work will refresh and enhance our wastewater treatment facility, providing cleaner water in a more sustainable way,” said Roy Hesemann, Utilities Director for the City of Cedar Rapids. “We are incredibly pleased to be selected to apply for this program. I especially want to thank our industrial users who understand the needs at our plant and the benefits of participating in this federal loan program. Letters of support from our industrial users and congressional representatives played an important role in securing this financing opportunity.”
Early Phase 1 engineering and design for upgrades at the plant began in March 2020, following several years of feasibility studies and implementation planning. “Phase one and two improvements will focus on upgrading aging solids-handling facilities,” explained James Flamming, an engineer with the City’s Utilities Department who is managing the project. “Over the course of the phased improvements, we’ll focus on improving resource recovery and efficiency at the plant, ensuring long-term sustainability, meeting air quality standards, and improving water quality in the Cedar River watershed.”
“EPA built one of the greatest financing tools for investing in America’s water infrastructure in history when it stood up the WIFIA program in 2018,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “These 55 new projects will facilitate $12 billion in water infrastructure to help address some of the most pressing challenges faced by water systems across this country.”
Find more information about the WPCF Nutrient Reduction & Solids Handling Plan on the City’s website at http://www.cedar-rapids.org/residents/utilities/projects.php
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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, 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 news release: EPA Invites 55 New Projects to Apply for WIFIA Loans to Improve Water Quality
To learn more about the 55 projects that are invited to apply for WIFIA financing in 2021, visit: https://www.epa.gov/wifia/wifia-selected-projects