June marks the beginning of hurricane season in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. With that in mind, now is a good time to review facility shutdown and securing procedures, state and federal guidelines for flooding preparedness, and the safety measures your facility has in place to prevent and minimize chemical and hazardous substance releases as a result of storm damage or flooding. Being prepared to minimize releases and understanding release reporting requirements is key during this season.

In EPA news, the fiscal year 2022 budget submitted to Congress included $11.2 billion earmarked for the EPA. Funds are marked for several specific initiatives including rebuilding infrastructure and creating jobs, protecting public health, tackling the climate crisis, and advancing environmental justice.

Other important regulation and compliance items to keep an eye on:
Ask an Expert: WIFIA
The Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program is a federal plan to accelerate investment in water infrastructure by offering long-term and low-cost supplemental loans. This month’s featured BC expert Shelby Smith sheds more light on this well-funded and growing federal program to accelerate water and wastewater infrastructure projects. Read “Ask an Expert”

New construction stormwater general permit proposed
The EPA is seeking public comment on its proposed 2022 Construction General Permit (CGP) for stormwater discharges from construction activity. Key proposed changes for the CGP include new or clarified provisions related to erosion and pollution prevention controls, dewatering discharges, and permittee training.

Clean Water Act revision
EPA announced that it will revise the 2020 Clean Water Act Section 401 Certification Rule with the intent to strengthen the authority of states and tribes to protect their water resources while supporting efficiency and efficacy.

TSCA tightening
The Toxic Substances Control Act (TCSA) has been the subject of review by the Biden administration and the EPA. Current actions include risk evaluations, fee assessment, new chemicals program, PBT chemicals, and tightened chemical oversight.

Ask an Expert

In this month’s feature, BC subject matter expert Shelby Smith covers how the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program works.

Question: I read that the EPA is offering $6.5 billion in new funding to accelerate water and wastewater infrastructure projects through the WIFIA program. What can you tell me about this funding opportunity? Shelby Smith

Answer: WIFIA loans offer a low, fixed interest rate with flexible financial terms. Loans can be used to cover up to 49% of eligible projects costs including feasibility planning through design, construction, program management fees, costs for applying for the loan, and other financing costs. For this funding year, up to 80% of eligible project costs for small communities may be covered.

Broad eligibility

The program has several categories of eligible borrowers including local, state, tribal, federal government entities, and other specified groups. Private borrowers are eligible but must have public sponsors and must demonstrate that they support the affected state, local, or tribal government.

Eligible projects vary from wastewater conveyance and treatment projects to desalination, aquifer recharge, water recycling projects and beyond. Eligible project cost depends on community size: Minimum project cost is $20 million for large communities and $5 million for smaller communities (fewer than 25,000 population).

For a full listing of eligible borrowers and projects, please refer to the EPA’s WIFIA Program Fact Sheet.

Project readiness and priorities

To obtain WIFIA funding, the EPA seeks projects that are “ready to proceed.” These are projects that are planned one to three years out and will be incurring construction costs, or may be incurring construction costs at about the time the loan closes.

The EPA’s 2021 priorities are projects tied to economically stressed communities, protecting against extreme weather events, aging infrastructure and conveyance systems, lead and emerging contaminants in water systems, or innovative approaches.

Getting connected
EPA staff are approachable and ready to help. We’ve connected clients to EPA WIFIA experts for one-on-one meetings to present project ideas; ask questions; and obtain input on project eligibility, financial benefits, delivery methods, and other technical considerations for their project or group of projects.


About the experts

Meghan Krishnayya, Indianapolis, is the Compliance & Permitting Service Line Director for Brown and Caldwell, with expertise in environmental regulatory program strategy development and implementation.

Shelby Smith is an environmental engineer for Brown and Caldwell. She is based in Seattle and has nearly 10 years of experience serving clients with municipal wastewater program and project management, capital investment planning, and client service management.

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