Miami-Dade County, Fla., will receive a $235.2-million loan from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program, the third WIFIA loan EPA has approved for the county in 16 months.

The new low-interest loan, whose closing EPA announced on Aug. 6, will cover about 49% of the costs of a $480-million project that will increase treatment capacity at the county Water and Sewer Dept.’s South District Wastewater Treatment Plant to 131 million gallons per day, from 112.54 mgd now.

The Water and Sewer Dept. also will build new injection wells at its two other wastewater treatment plants, which EPA says will help meet state Ocean Outfall Legislation requirements.

[View EPA fact sheet on project here.]

Miami-Dade officials say the project also will harden the plant and make it more resilient in times of severe weather.

County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez said in a statement that the Water and Sewer Dept. serves more than 2.3 million people daily and added “it is vital that the system is resilient and has the flexibility to continuously serve the community during severe weather events.”

EPA says the WIFIA loan will save Miami-Dade County $80.2 million compared with conventional bond financing.

Counting the new WIFIA loan, EPA has awarded $661 million in loans under the program to Miami-Dade County in the past 16 months.

The earlier WIFIA loans were a $326-million loan, announced on June 4, for upgrades to the county’s three wastewater treatment plants, and a $100-million loan, announced on April 4, 2019, for injection wells at the plants.

Congress authorized WIFIA in 2014 but the program was slow to get off the ground, partly because of limited appropriations. But since EPA approved its first loan under the program in 2018, the agency has issued 25 loans, totaling $5.5 billion, including nine new WIFIA loans and one refinancing since March.

EPA also is gearing up for a new WIFIA round, and has $5 billion to lend. Letters of interest for the 2020 round are due by Oct. 15.

Congress has added a new facet to the EPA loan program, authorizing loans to state water infrastructure programs. EPA has an additional $1 billion in loans available under the new program, dubbed SWIFIA.

Letters of interest for SWIFIA loans are due by Sept. 15.

Original story had incorrect total cost for Miami-Dade project. It should have read $480 million.