NEW CASTLE – County Executive Matt Meyer announced that New Castle County was selected as one of 39 government entities nationally to apply for a federal water infrastructure loan. New Castle County will apply for a $32 million loan which will be used for the Christina River Force Main Rehabilitation Project, a section known as the County’s ‘sewer aorta.’ These loans will be offered through the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA).
This is the first time a Delaware government has been invited to apply.
“We will put our best foot forward when applying for this loan,” said County Executive Meyer. "Funding for this project is critical to the health and safety for a great deal of the New Castle County population. We are especially thankful for the hard work and advocacy from U.S. Senator Tom Carper and Senator Chris Coons.”
The loan application process is already underway. New Castle County representatives recently attended a first-time borrower’s seminar and officials are working with WIFIA assigned project team to begin assembling a formal application submission.
Should the County receive the $32 million loan, it will be used to construct approximately 1,500 feet of new force main across the Christina River up to the connection with the Wilmington Wastewater Treatment Plan and support ongoing rehabilitation of the Christina River Force Main.
The total project planning estimates for the full project was estimated at $500 million spread out over the next 20 years. This marks the initial phase of a long-term investment and much needed redundancy in County infrastructure.
“The role of the federal government here is to help our local municipalities make the critical investments in water systems that they cannot afford to make on their own,” said US Senator Tom Carper, Delaware’s champion for making historic investments in drinking and wastewater infrastructure through his role as Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman. “These projects will not only help make important upgrades to our wastewater system but also support the local economy by bringing jobs and providing safe, reliable water for homes and businesses in New Castle County.”
“Clean water is a necessity for everyone, and it’s imperative that the federal government make the generational investments now to upgrade our water systems and improve the resiliency of our infrastructure,” said US Senator Chris Coons. “Everyone in New Castle County and across Delaware deserves access to clean water, and I’m glad that County Executive Meyer is acting so urgently to see this project provide for Delawareans.”
“Investments in our state’s water infrastructure are critically important to improving the everyday lives of Delawareans including right here in New Castle County,” said Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester. “I’m encouraged that New Castle County was one of only 38 government entities selected to apply for this federal water infrastructure loan for their Christina River Force Main Rehabilitation Project to provide safe and clean drinking water to households and businesses in New Castle County.”
Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that 38 other new projects have been invited to apply for Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loans. The agency anticipates that, as funds become available, $6.7 billion in WIFIA loans will help finance over $15 billion in water infrastructure projects to protect public health and water quality across 24 states
"This is one of the most critical pipes in our system,” said Tracy Surles, general manager of the county's public works department. “It carries approximately 60 percent of the flow north of the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal. Failure of this pipe would truly be catastrophic, and so funding to begin long-overdue service on the force main is key."
Background on WIFIA
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 goal 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.