WIFIA financing will help City achieve significant savings, minimize rate increases for residents
The City of Wichita has submitted its application to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to secure Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) financing of $269.7 million for the City’s new Northwest Water Facility (NWF). Upon loan closing, which is expected within one year of submitting the application, WIFIA funds will be allocated toward eligible expenses within the project’s final budget. Eligible costs include design, construction, owner’s representative services and additional hard costs associated with the NWF project. Together, financing from WIFIA and the State Revolving Loan Fund (SRF) will generate an estimated $76 million in cost savings for the City of Wichita.
“Submitting the WIFIA application is a key milestone for the NWF project and one that directly impacts ratepayers,” said Robert Layton, Wichita City Manager. “The WIFIA and SRF financing combination provides an optimum mix of low interest rates and deferred payments. Ultimately, this financing will benefit ratepayers by minimizing water rate increases over the next decade.”
Competing with 61 water systems across the nation, the City of Wichita was one of 39 cities invited to apply for WIFIA financing after submitting its Letter of Intent in July 2018. The WIFIA selection process evaluates applicants based on 16 rating criteria, including creditworthiness, technical feasibility, readiness to proceed to construction, and the project’s ability to meet the strategic objectives outlined in the WIFIA statute and regulation. The City received approval for WIFIA financing for up to 49% of total eligible project costs, with a maximum loan amount of $269.7 million.
“It’s an honor for Wichita to be among the communities selected for this unique financing opportunity,” said Layton. “And, it’s also a testament to the staff’s thoughtful and intentional work over the past eight years to position Wichita as a solid candidate for WIFIA consideration and selection.”
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 and low-cost supplemental credit assistance for regionally and nationally significant projects.
The new NWF will replace the City’s 80-year-old water treatment facility. Construction is expected to begin in 2020 with completion expected in 2024.