Nationally, 83 WIFIA loans are financing nearly $32 billion in water infrastructure upgrades, creating 95,000 jobs

May 20, 2022

By Ramona du Houx

On May 19, 2022, at an event with DeKalb County Chief Executive Officer Michael L. Thurmond and other local officials, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox announced a $284 million Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan to DeKalb County, Georgia to help finance the Water Infrastructure Renewal Program. With EPA’s WIFIA loan, DeKalb County is modernizing infrastructure to deliver safe, reliable drinking water to over 750,000 residents while building capacity for sustainable growth.

“Water is essential to everything we do. We must upgrade old, outdated water infrastructure like we see here in DeKalb County to protect public health and the environment while helping communities grow toward a bright future,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox. “With this EPA funding, Dekalb County will see critical infrastructure upgrades to secure clean and safe drinking water while saving money. Projects like these are a necessary service for communities and the reason we are making an historic investment in water infrastructure across the country through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.”

“Clean water is imperative for the health of our children, our families, and our communities,” said Representative Lucy McBath (GA-6). “Modernizing the infrastructure we rely on to deliver such a vital resource as drinking water is a crucial part of supporting sustainable growth. I am proud of the work the Environmental Protection Agency is supporting right here in our community, and I am excited to see how this loan will serve the needs of our friends and neighbors.”

“I’m grateful to the EPA for investing in Georgia and the health and well-being of Fourth District residents particularly,” said Representative Hank Johnson (GA-04), a senior member of the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee (T&I). “I want to thank Assistant Administrator Fox, Regional Administrator Blackman and CEO Thurmond for their steadfast commitment to provide citizens with good, clean drinking water. As a member of the T&I Committee, I will continue my work to support existing projects and programs and authorize new ones to help update and modernize our water infrastructure.”

The Water Infrastructure Renewal Program will upgrade DeKalb County’s aging drinking water distribution system. The program includes replacing water pipes in the distribution system to address water main breaks. This new infrastructure will reduce water loss to protect public health and safety and improve customer service.

The program is also upgrading the disinfection system, adding backup power, and replacing water storage tanks to increase capacity. By investing in a modernization project to upgrade the existing drinking water infrastructure, DeKalb County will enhance the resiliency of the system and be able to reliably provide water service to the community well into the future.

“On behalf of the DeKalb Board of Commissioners and the residents of the county, I would like to thank EPA for being a trusted partner and supporter of our efforts to ensure safe, high-quality drinking water for years to come,” said DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond. “The capital improvements that will be made with these funds will also protect public health and safety, provide sustainable growth and save ratepayers millions of dollars.”

DeKalb County will save over $60 million by financing with WIFIA loans. Construction is expected to be completed in 2028, and construction and operation are expected to create close to 2,000 jobs.