The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will finance nearly half of a $561-million slate of sewer modernization projects in New Orleans, the agency announced on Dec. 7.
The Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans says it will invest the $275-million Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan in its Sewer System Evaluation and Rehabilitation Program, which includes more than 160 projects to modernize sewer pipes that are aging or have been damaged by storms.
Board officials say the projects will improve climate resilience, reduce inflow and saltwater infiltration and prevent sewer line leaks and breaks. That will ultimately help to reduce flood risks, particularly in historically underserved communities during storms.
Construction is expected to complete in 2025. The projects are anticipated to support 1,800 jobs, EPA says.
“With so many projects in need of funding, we stand shovel-ready to harden our city’s infrastructure,” Ghassan Korgan, board executive director, said in a statement.
The WIFIA program provides low-cost, long-term loans for significant water infrastructure projects. EPA says the program’s flexible repayment terms will save the board about $100 million.
“This low-cost loan will save the city money while supporting critical upgrades to bolster climate resiliency and better protect vulnerable communities,” EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox said in a statement. “This project illustrates the critical water infrastructure improvements that will be achieved under the bipartisan infrastructure law.”
Last week, EPA announced $7.4 billion to be allocated to states, tribes and territories from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
EPA says 64 WIFIA loans are financing more than $26 billion in water infrastructure projects across the U.S. The board previously received a $111-million WIFIA loan for the sewer system projects in 2019.