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EPA Announces $308M Through WIFIA Loans to Modernize Water Infrastructure in Joliet, Illinois

JOLIET, IL — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announces two Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loans totaling $308 million to the City of Joliet, Illinois. EPA’s WIFIA loans will support the Alternative Water Source Program, which will tap into Lake Michigan as a sustainable source of drinking water to benefit the city and neighboring communities.

“Water Week 2022 is focused on elevating clean water as a national priority, and EPA’s WIFIA program is a powerful investment tool that is helping achieve that goal in Joliet and communities across the country,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox. “Clean, reliable, and affordable water is essential to everyone, and this project will help the city transition from counting on a depleted aquifer to a much more reliable and sustainable source of water.”

The City of Joliet’s two WIFIA loans will support the planning, design, and program management costs for the Alternative Water Source Program and the modernization of the city’s existing water distribution system. These projects will enable a new connection to Lake Michigan as a primary water source while also identifying and replacing lead service lines and reducing the system’s water loss from over 30 percent to under 10 percent — saving 2.5 million gallons per day. An Illinois State Water Survey projection has indicated that local aquifers will be unable to support the city’s maximum daily water demand by 2030.

“Every community deserves to have clean water running from their tap. As we kick off Water Week, these grants will bring us a step closer to that goal by funding the Alternative Water Source Program,” U.S. Senator Dick Durbin said. “This funding will go a long way in ensuring that Joliet can finally rely on their water source by transitioning residents from an outdated aquifer to using one of our region’s greatest resources, Lake Michigan.”

“Updating our crumbling water infrastructure is crucial in helping ensure families across Illinois have safer and cleaner drinking water,” U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth said. “I’m glad to see the City of Joliet, with critical support from EPA, not only helping ensure sustainable, clean drinking water for its residents, but saving money and creating good-paying, local jobs in the process. My Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act, as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, helped reauthorize the WIFIA loan program, and I’m pleased to see this program at work for Illinoisans.”

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“This is great news for Joliet and surrounding communities, and these federal water infrastructure loans will make it easier to bring clean, sustainable water from Lake Michigan to the southwest suburbs. I’m pleased this funding will also go to replacing lead service lines so we can make sure every home has access to safe drinking water,” said U.S. Representative Bill Foster. “In addition to these loans, I was proud to announce recently that I secured $3.5 million of federal community project funds for this project. The people of Joliet, Will County, and the entire area deserve access to a clean, reliable, and sustainable water source.”

The City of Joliet will save approximately $112 million by financing with WIFIA loans. Project construction and operation for these first two loans are expected to create over 5,000 jobs. These two WIFIA loans are part of a master agreement that will commit over $340 million in WIFIA financial assistance to the City of Joliet for the Alternative Water Source Program. This arrangement with EPA provides the City of Joliet quick access to long-term, committed financing at attractive terms, enabling the City of Joliet to reduce cost impacts to customers.

“We are pleased to close on this loan. Federal financing at a low interest rate reduces cost impacts to our residents,” said Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk. “As we work to bring Lake Michigan water to Joliet and the region by 2030, this loan will finance development costs enabling continuation of this critical infrastructure project. The City of Joliet is committed to upgrading our water distribution system. These improvements will conserve water and reduce water loss, allowing us to receive Lake Michigan water and provide a sustainable, reliable, and high-quality water source to our residents for generations to come.”

“Providing safe and reliable water to the residents of Joliet is my first priority,” said Joliet Director of Public Utilities, Allison Swisher. “The WIFIA program will support the city in achieving its mission of providing Lake Michigan water by 2030 to promote the public health, safety and economic interests of our community.”

With this WIFIA loan closing, EPA has announced 76 WIFIA loans that are providing $13.8 billion in credit assistance to help finance over $29 billion for water infrastructure while creating approximately 88,600 jobs and saving customers over $5 billion.

Established by the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 2014, the WIFIA program is a federal loan and guarantee program administered by EPA. WIFIA’s aim is to accelerate investment in the nation’s water infrastructure by providing long-term, low-cost supplemental credit assistance for regionally and nationally significant projects.

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