The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is helping to finance an upgrade of two of the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District’s wastewater treatment plants to reduce negative emissions and improve air quality. The Solids Management Upgrades project, expected to start next spring and finish by 2029, would replace aging systems with modern processes that are more environmentally friendly.

EPA is supplying the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District (MSD) with $330 million via a Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loan for the $898-million Solids Management Upgrades project. Through WIFIA, EPA supplies water infrastructure project owners with low-cost, long-term loans.

Federal officials say MSD will save about $86 million on the Solids Management Upgrades project by using the low-cost WIFIA funding. 

The WIFIA program has provided $19 billion to support 112 projects aimed at bolstering drinking water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure, according to EPA. Last month, EPA officials announced the availability of another $7.5 billion in WIFIA funding. 

The scope of the project includes upgrading biosolids processing systems at MSD’s Bissell Point and Lemay wastewater treatment plants, which are respectively north and south of St. Louis along the Mississippi River. Bissell Point is MSD’s largest wastewater treatment facility. 

MSD officials say the more-efficient fluidized bed technology will result in improved air quality by reducing emissions of some pollutants by up to 90%, while saving about $2 million annually in operations and maintenance costs. About 1.3 million people will be served by the project, according to EPA.

“The Solids Management Upgrades project is about more than infrastructure improvements—it’s a long-term investment in the health and well-being of our community,” says Brian Hoelscher, executive director and CEO of MSD, in a statement. 

Earlier this year, MSD selected Kokosing-Plocher, a joint venture of Kokosing Industrial Inc. and Highland, Ill.-based Plocher Construction Co. Inc., as the design-build contractor for the project. The team also includes design partner Crawford, Murphy & Tilly, Inc., according to the contractors. 

Earlier, MSD also had shortlisted joint ventures Alberici-CDM and Goodwin-MMC for the project, records show. 

The Solids Management Upgrades project is part of a program called MSD Project Clear, which is a long term effort to improve water quality and resolve issues with the wastewater system. The program was initiated as a result of a 2011 consent decree with EPA.