Miami-Dade County and EPA sign $326 million loan agreement to fund new electrical buildings at wastewater treatment plants
Miami-Dade County is the only organization in the nation to receive back-to-back awards from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan program. The $326 million low-interest loan will finance nearly half of the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department (WASD)’s Wastewater Treatment Plant Electrical Distribution Building Upgrades.
The combination of aging infrastructure, new regulatory requirements and the unique ecology of South Florida requires that the department operate a more resilient water and sewer system. The project’s overall $660 million upgrades include the design and construction of five new electrical distribution buildings at the department’s three wastewater treatment plants. Two of the new electrical distribution buildings are needed to meet requirements of the State’s Ocean Outfall Legislation (OOL), which mandates the elimination of daily use of ocean outfalls by 2025.
The new, resilient electrical facilities will provide environmental benefits to the public, by enabling the wastewater treatment plants to operate continuously during storm events, and thereby eliminating or greatly minimizing the risk of potential untreated wastewater discharges to the surrounding environments. The new electrical buildings will be designed to meet new facility hardening guidelines being implemented by the department and will include new back-up emergency generators which can also be used for load curtailment when required by FPL.
The generators will be housed inside the buildings at elevations that consider storm surge levels caused by tropical storms and hurricanes, coupled with extreme rainfall and future sea level rise projected figures. The new facilities are also anticipated to achieve a significant reduction in diesel emissions in terms of pollution produced and exposure, due to the replacement of aging generators with new units that will be compliant with Tier 4 emissions standards.
“WASD is midway through Miami-Dade County’s largest Capital Improvement Program in our history,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez. “The investments and upgrades being made will have significant impacts on the environment and the community for decades to come. By accelerating some of these projects through our collaboration with the EPA and the WIFIA program, we demonstrate that our projects are considered to be both regionally and nationally impactful.”
In 2019, WASD received nearly $100 million in WIFIA loans to construct 14 new deep injection wells at its three wastewater treatment plants.
“Last spring, I visited Miami-Dade County to announce the county’s first $100 million WIFIA loan,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Through WIFIA, Miami-Dade County is showing how repeat investments in water infrastructure can provide economic, environmental and employment benefits for communities across the country. The WIFIA program is playing a key role in President Trump’s efforts to improve and upgrade our nation’s water infrastructure investing a total of $10 billion in American communities and creating 23,000 jobs.”
Locally, WASD’s project will result in 266 new jobs. The awarding of this WIFIA loan also saves money for the department and its customers.
“WASD is pleased to partner with WIFIA on a second loan to improve our local environment and to harden our assets against sea level rise,” said WASD Director Kevin Lynskey. “This joint finance arrangement will save our rate payers nearly $100 million over the course of this loan.”
It is the priority of the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department to provide safe, reliable service to its customers. For additional information about Department services and programs, visit the WASD website.