Today (Tuesday, Dec. 7), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a $275 million Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan to the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans to modernize the city’s aging and storm-damaged sewer system.

“Earlier this year, President Biden visited New Orleans and heard firsthand about the challenges with water infrastructure. Today, we are proud to partner with the city through WIFIA,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox. “This low-cost loan will save the city money while supporting critical upgrades to bolster climate resiliency and better protect vulnerable communities. This project illustrates the critical water infrastructure improvements that will be achieved under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.”

The $275 million WIFIA loan will finance nearly half of the $561 million project costs. Project construction and operation are expected to create an estimated 1,800 jobs and construction is expected to be completed in 2025.

“Over 160 projects will benefit, and thanks to the EPA, our customers will pay less for the repairs. In a city where one in five faces poverty, that’s critical,” said Ghassan Korban, executive director of the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans. “With so many projects in need of funding, we stand shovel-ready to harden our city’s infrastructure.”

With EPA’s WIFIA financing, this project will help protect historically underserved communities from the impacts of storm events and climate change.

“This is great news for the city and people of New Orleans,” said U.S. Rep. Troy A. Carter Sr. “Here in Louisiana, we depend on our critical water infrastructure to keep us safe and healthy, especially when the storms come. It is long past time that we invest in the safety, longevity, and resiliency of our water and sewage management systems, and I am proud that the federal government is a strong partner on this critical issue. With this $275 million WIFIA loan along with the critical funds from the recently passed Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we can make the needed investments for lasting improvements in our water infrastructure.”

EPA’s WIFIA loan will help finance the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans’ comprehensive Sewer System Evaluation and Rehabilitation Program that will undertake over 160 projects to modernize aging and storm-damaged sewer pipelines throughout the city. The projects are designed to be climate resilient. They will reduce inflow and saltwater infiltration, prevent breaks and leaks in sewer lines, and help maintain existing infrastructure during wet weather events. 

“New Orleans is a historic city on the front lines of climate change, and this investment is a milestone that was initiated two years ago,” said Sewerage and Water Board President and New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “The City of New Orleans has demonstrated time and time again that we are well-equipped to activate the federal resources flowing to our city, and no city is better prepared to put this funding to use than New Orleans. The work we complete with this loan will make New Orleans both more resilient and more equitable.”

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