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The Journal Gazette

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Thursday, October 10, 2019 1:00 am

Water projects get $436 million

3 area communities part of infrastructure loan

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Eric Holcomb and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler on Wednesday announced a $436 million Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation loan to help finance wastewater and drinking water projects in 20 communities across the state.

Three of those are in northeast Indiana – Warsaw, Woodburn and Uniondale.

“When we say infrastructure, we often think of our roads, but Indiana has more than 46,000 miles of water infrastructure,” Holcomb said. “Delivering clean water and protecting public health are top priorities, and I am grateful that our partnership with the EPA will help empower communities across Indiana to take our water systems to the Next Level.”

This funding supports projects that will deliver clean water and protect public health across the state of Indiana, including in its small and rural communities. With the EPA's WIFIA loan, the Indiana Finance Authority will be able to provide 28 loans to 20 communities.

When combined with state revolving loan funds, the money will be used for $910 million in state projects.

Drinking water projects will include efforts to improve water treatment plants, storage tanks, distribution system components, wells and pump stations as well as to construct resiliency features and implement water conservation measures. Wastewater projects will include efforts to increase capacity of wastewater treatment plants, tunnels to capture combined sewer overflows and collection systems.

The local projects include a new treatment plant in Woodburn costing $7.5 million; $9.4 million for inflow and infiltration corrections in Warsaw and $735,000 for wastewater treatment plant improvements in Uniondale.

“This WIFIA loan will improve water quality and protect the health of Hoosiers across the state while delivering on President Trump's commitment to upgrade our nation's infrastructure, create jobs and safeguard public health and the environment,” Wheeler said. “With this loan closing, EPA has now issued 13 WIFIA loans totaling over $3.5 billion in credit assistance to help finance over $8 billion for water infrastructure projects and create over 15,000 jobs.”

Combining state resources, annual federal capitalization grant dollars and its WIFIA loan, Indiana's state revolving fund will be able to lend nearly $900 million to support water infrastructure projects throughout the state. The WIFIA program will finance nearly half of that figure – up to $436 million. The WIFIA loan will save Indiana Finance Authority an estimated $20 million compared to typical bond financing. Project construction and operation are expected to create more than 3,000 jobs.

“In Indiana, we aren't afraid to make history. We are honored to be the first state to receive WIFIA financing directly to our state revolving fund program,” said Jim McGoff, chief operating officer of Indiana Finance Authority.

The federal program's aim is to accelerate investment in the nation's water infrastructure by providing long-term and low-cost supplemental credit assistance for regionally and nationally significant projects.

nkelly@jg.net