EPA Announces $281 Million WIFIA Loan to Modernize Wastewater Infrastructure in Johnson County, Kansas

Nationally, 77 WIFIA loans are financing nearly $30 billion in water infrastructure upgrades, creating 89,000 jobs

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a $281 million Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan to Johnson County, Kansas to support the Nelson Wastewater Treatment Plant Improvements project. Through this WIFIA loan, EPA is supporting the modernization of critical wastewater infrastructure to be more resilient to climate change while protecting water quality.

“In Johnson County and across the country, communities are relying on water infrastructure that is outdated and outmatched. It puts health and environmental protections that people rely on at risk,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox. “I want to congratulate Johnson County for securing this low interest WIFIA loan and investing in a future that improves water quality and climate resilience. Through WIFIA and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, EPA is working hand in hand with local communities to address some of their most pressing problems—protecting community health and creating jobs in the process.”

The Nelson Wastewater Treatment Facility is Johnson County Wastewater’s oldest treatment facility, dating back to the 1940s. The treatment technology currently in place is not capable of meeting future water quality standards and a significant portion of the facility is at or near the end of its useful service life.

“Johnson County is to be commended for successfully earning this WIFIA loan,” said EPA Region 7 Administrator Meg McCollister. “Thanks to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law we will soon be delivering billions of dollars for water infrastructure to more communities, including overburdened communities that have traditionally found it difficult to compete for federal funding.”

The improvements project will modernize the wastewater treatment plant by implementing biological nutrient removal upgrades and adding auxiliary treatment facilities to treat peak wet weather flows and biosolids processing. This project will help Johnson County comply with a consent decree from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus discharges. Upon completion of the project, the wastewater treatment facility will be able to treat 15 million gallons per day during average daily flows and 52 million gallons per day during peak flows. Additionally, the system will provide an additional 87 million gallons per day of wet weather auxiliary capacity, which will allow Johnson County to meet future demand.

“I applaud the county’s efforts to upgrade and modernize its community infrastructure and provide much-needed improvements to the Nelson Wastewater Treatment Plant,” said Senator Roger Marshall. “We have made huge strides in water treatment technology and it is important that we help our communities take advantage of that technology to continue to improve water quality for all residents and business owners.”

“Water infrastructure is vitally important to our health, safety, and wellbeing—but unfortunately people don’t often think of it until something goes wrong. Through the new bipartisan infrastructure law and long-standing programs like WIFIA, we’re helping make sure that doesn’t happen,” said Rep. Sharice Davids (KS-3). “When I was working with local officials on my State of our Systems report, we identified Nelson Wastewater as a key priority. I know this federal funding will make a huge difference in safety and quality of life for our communities.”

“We appreciate the opportunity to utilize low interest cost WIFIA financing, a key part of funding optimization, for the Nelson Wastewater Treatment Facility Improvements project,” said Ed Eilert, chairman of the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners. “Community benefits of this important project include replacing aging infrastructure, supporting community growth and redevelopment, improving wet weather management and improving water quality.”

Through EPA’s WIFIA loan, Johnson County will save approximately $80 million. Construction is expected to be completed in 2029 with construction and operation anticipated to create approximately 1,800 jobs.

Established by the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 2014, the WIFIA program is a federal loan and guarantee program administered by EPA. WIFIA’s aim is to accelerate investment in the nation’s water infrastructure by providing long-term, low-cost supplemental credit assistance for regionally and nationally significant projects.

The WIFIA program has an active pipeline of pending applications for projects that will result in billions of dollars in water infrastructure investment and thousands of jobs. With this WIFIA loan closing, EPA has announced 77 WIFIA loans that are providing $14 billion in credit assistance to help finance approximately nearly $30 billion for water infrastructure while creating approximately 89,000 jobs and saving ratepayers over $5 billion.

For more information about the WIFIA program, visit: https://www.epa.gov/wifia.

For more information about the WIFIA program’s accomplishments through 2021, visit: https://www.epa.gov/wifia/wifia-annual-report.

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