Last week, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla., announced $40 million in federal funds through a Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the Toho Water Authority in Kissimmee.
“The loan will help finance projects that will improve the efficiency of the existing sewer and wastewater management systems and support community growth without needing to expand the existing wastewater treatment facility,” Soto’s office noted.
“We thank the EPA for approving this major project to improve water quality and supply for Central Florida,” said Soto “This will greatly assist our growing region while ensuring our beautiful Kissimmee Chain of Lakes, Kissimmee River and other sensitive water bodies remain protected.”
Rubio pointed to his work on a key Senate committee.
“I have been a champion of Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act funds since I joined the Senate Appropriations Committee, and I am proud that Kissimmee will benefit from this critical federal investment,” Rubio said. “Toho Water Authority will utilize the $40 million loan to finance projects that will improve water quality and support Kissimmee’s local economy. I applaud the administration for its continued commitment and investment in Florida’s critical infrastructure.”
Florida Department of Environmental Protection Sec. Noah Valenstein said the funds would be put to good use.
“Through these loans, EPA is providing critical funding and support as the Toho Water Authority in Kissimmee, Florida works to improve their sewer and wastewater management systems. We applaud EPA’s commitment to improving Florida’s water quality,” Valenstein said.
“Toho’s investment in these projects will continue to improve the reliability of our wastewater infrastructure while demonstrating our ongoing commitment to safeguarding public health and the State’s water quality,” said Toho Water Authority Board Chairman Clarence Thacker. “We are grateful to the EPA and Congress, including our local delegation which includes Senator Marco Rubio, Senator Rick Scott and Congressman Darren Soto, who have made the acceleration of our wastewater infrastructure improvements possible through this low-interest WIFIA loan program.”
Federal officials also weighed in on the funds last week.
“This WIFIA loan will improve water quality and support the economy of Kissimmee while delivering on President Trump’s commitment to upgrade our nation’s infrastructure, create jobs and safeguard public health and the environment,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “With this loan closing, EPA has now issued 16 WIFIA loans totaling more than $3.5 billion in credit assistance to help finance more than $8 billion for water infrastructure projects while creating more than 16,000 jobs.”
“By investing in water infrastructure, the Toho Water Authority is improving water quality in their community and protecting public health,” said EPA Region 4 Administrator Mary Walker. “Through the WIFIA loan program, EPA works to fund critical repairs necessary to strengthen our wastewater treatment and drinking water distribution systems.”
“Toho Water Authority will repair, rehabilitate and replace sewer mains, sewer lines and manholes, including 65 wastewater pumping station basins and over 900,000 feet of gravity mains. The project will mitigate emergency failures such as sanitary sewer overflows that result from problems with the current infrastructure. The project will also reduce inflow and infiltration into the gravity sewer system. These improvements will benefit 300,000 people by effectively increasing treatment capacity while allowing further community growth without expanding the existing wastewater treatment facility,” Soto’s office noted.
“This project—referred to as the Accelerated Gravity Sewer Assessment and Rehabilitation project—will cost $81.9 million. EPA’s WIFIA loan will finance nearly half of that figure—up to $40.1 million. The WIFIA loan will save the Toho Water Authority an estimated $7.9 million compared to typical bond financing. Project construction and operation are expected to create 198 jobs,” the congressman’s office added.
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