The City of Baltimore has secured $202m Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to modernize its wastewater infrastructure.


Image: Senator Chris Van Hollen, Senator Ben Cardin, Baltimore County Executive John A. Olszewski Jr., Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles. Photo: Courtesy of The United States Environmental Protection Agency.

EPA stated that this loan will help the city to upgrade its water infrastructure to offer improved water quality to 1.8 million of the city’s residents.

Similar to several urban centers, the City of Baltimore is facing challenges through aging wastewater infrastructure. With the loan, the city expects to complete 14 projects including series of repairs and upgrades across its large wastewater conveyance system, finish upgrades to the Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant, and make improvements to its stormwater management system.

The projects are expected to improve the reliability and performance of the wastewater infrastructure, reduce polluted runoff and sewage from flowing into the Inner Harbor and safeguard the investments made to restore the Chesapeake Bay.

EPA acting administrator Andrew Wheeler said: “This WIFIA loan will help Baltimore modernize its wastewater infrastructure, protect human health, and prevent sewage and polluted runoff from entering the Chesapeake Bay. Through WIFIA, EPA is playing a leading role in President Trump’s efforts to upgrade our nation’s infrastructure, create jobs, and safeguard public health and the environment.”

The upgrade project is estimated to cost $942m in total. EPA’s loan will cover more than 20% of the total amount required. Additionally, Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) will provide a finance of $280.5m from its Water Quality Revolving Loan Fund and about $47.5m from the Bay Restoration Grant Fund.

The Maryland Water Quality Revolving Loan Fund receives an annual grant from EPA, including nearly $39m last year.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said: “Maryland appreciates the support of our federal partners in helping Baltimore City promote public health and ensuring that we continue making historic progress to restore our most precious natural asset, the Chesapeake Bay.”

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh said: “Our water and wastewater customers have been required to shoulder the burden of paying for these long overdue and essential improvements. Making these critical investments is not only long-overdue, but vital to Baltimore becoming a truly 21st Century City.”

In November 2018, the federal agency agreed to provide the city of San Diego, California with $614m loan under WIFIA to support Pure Water, a water purification project.

The loan will help in the construction of a new facility to produce 30 million of gallons of quality drinking water per day.