EPA Announces $477 Million WIFIA Loan for Major Managed Aquifer Recharge Project

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced on September 10 a $477 million Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan to the Hampton Roads Sanitation District (HRSD) in Washington, D.C.

The loan is the second installment in $1 billion in WIFIA assistance for HRSD. The WIFIA funding will help retire an 80-year-old wastewater treatment plant in an economically challenged community and replenish groundwater supplies threatened by sea level rise.

The Sustainable Water Infrastructure for Tomorrow (SWIFT) Program includes more than 20 projects across the Hampton Roads service area to upgrade existing treatment works and build full-scale SWIFT facilities that will ultimately replenish the overdrawn Potomac Aquifer with water treated to meet drinking water standards.

By replenishing the Potomac Aquifer, the program will foster climate resilience by restoring water supplies, preventing saltwater intrusion, and mitigating land subsidence for the 1.7 million residents served by the water system. The program will also improve the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay by reducing 90 percent of HRSD’s wastewater discharges to the watershed.

The EPA has committed $1 billion over 10 years to fund nearly half of the $2 billion SWIFT Program through a WIFIA master agreement. This arrangement with the EPA provides HRSD quick access to long-term, committed financing at extremely attractive terms, enabling HRSD to implement the ambitious SWIFT Program at the lowest cost possible to ratepayers.

Construction for the projects will occur between 2021-2029, with construction and operation expected to create an estimated 4480 jobs.

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This project will be the subject one of the articles in a special issue of Groundwater® in 2022 focusing on managed aquifer recharge (MAR).