EPA announces $221M loan for NJ water infrastructure

Matthew Fazelpoor//May 23, 2022//

EPA announces $221M loan for NJ water infrastructure

Matthew Fazelpoor//May 23, 2022//

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At an event late last week with federal, state and local officials, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a $221 million Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan to the New Jersey Infrastructure I-Bank.

The New Jersey State Revolving Fund Program (SRF) — a partnership between the state Department of Environmental Protection and the I-Bank — will use the loan to invest in 28 infrastructure projects to modernize water systems for nearly 6 million New Jersey residents.

“EPA is proud to partner with New Jersey to innovatively invest WIFIA funding and benefit many communities by removing dangerous lead service lines, strengthening drinking water systems, safely returning wastewater to the environment, and uplifting low-income communities and communities of color,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox. “EPA is working to ensure that all Americans have clean and safe water – through the WIFIA program and by investing $50 billion in water through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.”

This funding, combined with New Jersey SRF monies, will support $588 million in infrastructure for Garden State communities that will advance public health, save money and create local jobs. The pool of projects includes 26 drinking water projects that address local challenges, like removing contaminants preventing leaks, improving system resiliency, and replacing lead service lines. Two wastewater projects will also receive funding.

Newark water upgrades
In April, Mayor Ras Baraka was flanked by several officials, hoisting wrenches, to break ground on a new $23 million project to upgrade the Pequannock Water Treatment Plant. – CITY OF NEWARK

Recent water-improvement projects around the state

“Thanks to the EPA’s support, these critical investments will together benefit more than half of the state’s population, including New Jerseyans in communities most at risk of flooding, contaminated drinking water, and inadequate wastewater infrastructure,” said Gov. Phil Murphy. “In New Jersey, we recognize that the state of our economy is inextricably linked to the health of our residents and our environment. By generating jobs and maintaining water affordability, these projects will not only advance public health and sustainability but stimulate economic growth as well.”

“Four years ago, I worked with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to expand access to WIFIA loans in order to address the backlog of long-overdue water infrastructure projects in America,” said U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J. “I am encouraged to see New Jersey partner with the EPA and use these loans to fund critical initiatives that will upgrade water systems, ensure the safety of drinking water, and protect the health and safety of communities across our state.”

“Modernizing drinking water and wastewater infrastructure is a matter of public health, environmental safety, and racial and economic justice,” said U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J. “New Jersey is home to some of the oldest towns and cities in America, and many are grappling with aging water infrastructure, including lead pipes and outdated wastewater and stormwater systems. This federal and state partnership will put people to work replacing lead water lines, upgrading sewer systems, and reducing wastewater pollution, with a renewed emphasis on underserved communities that too often bear the brunt of our environmental crises.”

“We are very grateful to the EPA for this loan. Modernizing our water infrastructure and doing so wisely is a high priority for the Murphy Administration,” said New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn LaTourette. “By bringing this infrastructure up to date, we will be ensuring the highest standards of protection for the public health and the environment, such as the important improvements at this Moorestown water treatment plant, and we will be creating jobs and economic growth. This WIFIA loan will result in some 1,800 jobs and save the state approximately $51 million in NJ State Revolving Funds, allowing the I-Bank to finance more projects without costing borrowers or state one dime.”

Learn more about the WIFIA program by visiting www.epa.gov/wifia.