South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency invites PWSA to apply for WIFIA Water Infrastructure Loan 


January 19, 2021

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) has been invited by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to apply for a Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan. If approved, it would provide 49 percent of the funding needed for critical water infrastructure projects that would lead to the complete restoration of the Clearwell, a large, century old water storage facility.

After submitting a letter of interest in October, PWSA was one of 55 applicants invited to move to the next round for these competitive federal loans. The WIFIA program, established in 2014, funds water infrastructure improvements across the country focused on improving water quality, creating jobs, and ensuring access to clean and safe drinking water. 

"We are proud of this recognition from the EPA and appreciate the opportunity to advance to the application process," stated Ed Barca, PWSA's director of finance. "WIFIA funding is highly competitive and our formal application will continue to demonstrate the significance of these projects." 

If PWSA's application is approved, the low-interest loan would provide approximately $127,901,498 to fund a series of once-in-a-generation projects to renew key components of our water production and distribution systems. These projects will strengthen our water system, add needed redundancy, and ensure an uninterrupted supply of quality water.

The capital projects that make up our plan culminate with the restoration of the clearwell and includes rehabilitating the Aspinwall and Bruecken Pump Stations, replacing reservoir liners and cover systems, updating electrical and backup power systems, restoring pump stations, and repairing or replacing various large-diameter water mains throughout the system.

These projects, which total nearly $250 million, are a significant part of PWSA's $1.2 billion Capital Improvement Program. They are seeking other funding sources to support the remaining cost of these projects.

Criteria used by the EPA to evaluate projects include project readiness, credit worthiness, and national or regional impact of the project. Their critical water infrastructure projects stood out among 67 letters of interest requesting more than $9 billion and was selected to move forward due to water quality improvements that will benefit PWSA drinking water customers, ability to meet water quality regulations, create jobs, and support the growth of Pittsburgh's local economy.

"PWSA is embarking upon the largest capital investment in its history. Securing low interest state and federal loans will help to reduce long term costs to our ratepayers," stated Will Pickering, PWSA's chief executive officer. "As a publicly owned and controlled utility, every dollar is reinvested back into the water system, and we will continue to pursue opportunities like WIFIA to keep rates as affordable as possible." 


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