$225 Million Loan Helps Finance Water Reuse Project in Virginia

Oct. 14, 2020

The U.S. EPA announced a $225 million Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan to the Hampton Roads Sanitation District (HRSD)

U.S. EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler presented the Hampton Roads Sanitation District with a $225 million loan to help with HRSD’s fresh water efforts.

The money will support the Sustainable Water Initiative for Tomorrow program (SWIFT), reported the Virginian Pilot. SWIFT is a long-term plan for converting sewage into drinking water and then injecting it back into the Potomac aquifer.

“There are many places like Suffolk in the Tidewater region that have seen your population grow over the past year, and this growth is expected to continue into the next several decades," said Wheeler. “With this growth will come more demand for fresh water.”

The funding will also help to build wells to add high-quality water to the Potomac aquifer, which should also reduce surface water discharges into the Chesapeake Bay, according to Wheeler.

The project and funds will save the sanitation district over $72 million and create 1,412 jobs, reported the Virginian Pilot.

The EPA has also agreed to a $1 billion master agreement to provide funding under the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA).

SWIFT will cost about $460 million. The other half of the cost will be made up by the Virginia Resources Authority and the Clean Water State Revolving Fund.

According to HRSD general manager Ted Henifin, the program has allowed HRSD to successfully return 375 million gallons of water to the Potomac Aquifer.

“It’s the first step on our path to nearly 100 million gallons each day by 2032, ensuring a sustainable supply of groundwater will be available for future generations,” said Henifin.

“The SWIFT program will use innovative water reuse and advanced water treatment technologies to replenish the overdrawn Potomac Aquifer and restore its water supply,” said the EPA in the press release announcement. “It will implement more than 20 projects across the service area to upgrade existing treatment works, adding advanced water treatment facilities and multiple wells to add drinking water quality SWIFT Water to the stressed Potomac Aquifer.

“By replenishing the Potomac Aquifer, the program will help restore water supply, prevent saltwater intrusion, and mitigate land subsidence related to aquifer withdrawals in coastal Virginia,” continued the EPA. “The program will also improve the quality of the Chesapeake Bay by reducing surface water discharges by approximately 100 million gallons per day—90% of HRSD’s discharge to the Bay watershed.“

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Cristina Tuser

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