By Jai-Leen James, Contributing Reporter
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez signed a loan agreement worth nearly $100 million to strengthen wastewater infrastructure.
The mayor, alongside U.S. Representative Mario Diaz-Balart and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler, announced the deal Friday, April 5th at the South District Wastewater Treatment Plant.
The EPA awarded the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department (WASD) the financial assistance it needed to construct advanced wastewater treatment technology to protect Miami’s beaches and oceans. The deal is also anticipated to create 95 jobs locally. Wheeler said the projects funded by the loans have created approximately 6,000 jobs around the country.
The estimated cost for the project in Miami-Dade County is $203.5 million. The EPA’s $99.7 million loan will cover about half of that. With the money, the WASD is expected to construct 14 deep injection wells at its three treatment plants. The end goal is to stop wastewater from being discharged into the Atlantic Ocean.
The project must be completed by 2025 in compliance with Florida’s ocean outfall legislation. The results from the project are anticipated to reduced sewer overflows and increase availability of reclaimed water for possible reuse. Additionally, the construction of the wells will improve water flow management during heavy storms or rain.
Furthermore, the Florida Department of Environment Protection will invest about $59.8 million from its State Revolving Fund. Both loans from the Florida State Revolving Fun and Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act offer low interest rates.
“On behalf of Miami-Dade County, we are proud to be one of the first recipients of this national program’s funding,” said Mayor Gimenez, in a press release.
“This funding will support a project that will enhance the resilience of our sewer system and address the impact of sea level rise. WASD is already being considered for another WIFIA [Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act] award, so we look forward to a continued partnership with the EPA.”