The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is sending almost $100 million to South Florida to help improve wastewater infrastructure.
On Friday, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced a $99.7 million Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan to Miami-Dade County “to finance advanced wastewater infrastructure upgrades.” U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., and Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez joined Wheeler at the South District Wastewater Treatment Plant.
“EPA’s nearly $100 million WIFIA loan to Miami-Dade County will help construct advanced wastewater treatment technologies that will protect our oceans and beaches while creating valuable jobs,” said Wheeler. “Through the WIFIA program, EPA is fulfilling several of President Trump’s top priorities simultaneously: upgrading our nation’s water infrastructure, protecting water resources, and creating well-paying jobs.”
“As an appropriator, I know how significant the WIFIA loan is to localities across the nation, and I know first-hand how far these dollars will go in our community,” said Diaz-Balart. “Not only will this loan save the County nearly $30 million while improving critical infrastructure, but it will also create approximately 95 new jobs – thereby boosting our local economy. I thank Administrator Andrew Wheeler for his commitment to our nation, and for the signing of this loan. I look forward to the execution of this project and seeing its tremendous impact in Miami-Dade County.”
State leaders welcomed the announcement. Gov. Ron DeSantis applauded the funds headed to South Florida.
“President Trump’s administration continues to demonstrate its commitment to helping address Florida’s unique water challenges,” said DeSantis. “These federal dollars being released by the EPA will be invested in critical water infrastructure upgrades and help protect the water supply for millions of Floridians for generations to come. We continue to do our part at the state level to push for historic investments to protect and restore our environment and water quality.”
Florida Department of Environmental Protection Sec. Noah Valenstein also cheered the news.
“This substantial funding and support from Administrator Wheeler and EPA is an important step forward as Miami-Dade County works to upgrade its wastewater infrastructure to eliminate its ocean outfall. We appreciate the EPA and county’s commitment to improving Florida’s water quality and improving critical infrastructure,” said Valenstein.
“With EPA’s WIFIA loan, Miami‐Dade Water and Sewer Department will construct deep injection wells at its three wastewater treatment plants to allow for the redirecting of treated wastewater from the ocean outfalls to these wells. This project is required to be completed by 2025 to comply with the State of Florida’s ocean outfall legislation. This project will also increase availability of reclaimed water for potential reuse, reduce sanitary sewer overflows for the county’s 2.3 million residents, increase capacity for the management of peak wet weather flows, and meet advanced wastewater treatment levels,” the EPA noted. “Miami-Dade County’s project is estimated to cost $203.5 million. EPA’s WIFIA loan will finance nearly half of that amount—up to $99.7 million.
Additionally, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection will finance approximately $59.8 million from its State Revolving Fund. Because both the WIFIA program and the Florida State Revolving Fund loan program offer low interest rates, the county is expected to realize significant cost savings. The WIFIA loan alone will save Miami-Dade County an estimated $15.7 million compared to typical bond issuance. Project construction and operations are expected to create 95 jobs.”
Kevin Derby can be reached at Kevin.Derby@floridadaily.com.