Daily News

$250 Million EPA Loan to Upgrade Infrastructure, Advance Renewable Energy in Springfield

WASHINGTON, D.C. — At an event with U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Martin Suuberg, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, and other local officials, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox announced a $250 million Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan to the Springfield Water and Sewer Commission. This loan will help improve water quality and reliability by rehabilitating aging infrastructure throughout the system while restoring a hydropower facility that will deliver renewable energy to the Springfield water-treatment plant.

“EPA is proud to partner on this project that will support a cleaner, safer, and greener Springfield while creating more than 1,700 jobs. With EPA’s WIFIA funding, these benefits will be realized years sooner than otherwise possible,” Fox said. “These wins for water quality, air quality, public health, and the local economy illustrate how the bipartisan infrastructure deal will accelerate needed upgrades to revitalize communities across the country.”

Neal added that “an investment in infrastructure is an investment in our future, and today’s announcement reinforces that. I am proud that the Springfield region is the first in the state to benefit from the highly competitive federal Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, receiving one of the largest awards from the EPA in the nation. This unprecedented investment will help build back our region’s drinking water and wastewater systems to be more sustainable and resilient in the face of climate change, protect public health and our environment from the risk of infrastructure failure, and maintain the long-term affordability of these critical services.”

The Springfield Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Renewal Program will increase system reliability and ensure that drinking water is safe and wastewater is safely returned to the environment by rehabilitating, replacing, and upgrading drinking water and wastewater-treatment processes. The program includes 30 integrated water and wastewater infrastructure projects that will support system reliability, resiliency, and regulatory compliance by removing disinfection byproducts and meeting new water-discharge limits. The project also enables the water-treatment plant to be powered by 100% renewable, self-generated energy by rehabilitating the hydropower facility, providing a green power source for the system.

EPA’s WIFIA funding allows the Springfield infrastructure renewal program to accelerate these essential system updates by approximately 15 years.

“We are facing an unprecedented and unavoidable need for reinvestment in our century-old drinking water and wastewater systems,” said Josh Schimmel, the commission’s executive director. “We view the WIFIA program as an innovative means to renew and adapt our utility to 21st-century challenges in an affordable and sustainable manner. The unique and flexible terms of the WIFIA program offer a once-in-a-generation opportunity to modernize all of our water infrastructure on an accelerated basis in order to reduce risks presented by 21st-century challenges such as climate change and regulatory compliance.”

The project will cost $550 million, and the WIFIA loan will finance nearly half of that figure. The remaining project costs will be funded by a combination of a $200 million loan from the Massachusetts Clean Water State Revolving Fund and system funds. The Springfield Water and Sewer Commission will save approximately $60 million from financing with a WIFIA loan, which enables the commission to continue to support residents in need through its customer-assistance programs. Project construction and operation are expected to create more than 1,700 jobs.

With this WIFIA loan closing, EPA has announced 59 WIFIA loans that are providing over $11 billion in credit assistance to help finance approximately $24 billion for water infrastructure while creating approximately 69,000 jobs and saving ratepayers more than $4 billion.