December 2019 Vol. 74 No. 12


New Orleans Could Get Up to $111 Million Loan for Sewer Upgrades

The Environmental Protection Agency has invited New Orleans to apply for up to $111 million in loans. The money could help the city’s Sewerage and Water Board meet a 2025 federal court deadline for completing that restoration.

The EPA got letters of interest from 51 public and private agencies, and 38 were chosen to apply for $6 billion in loans to help finance about double that amount in water infrastructure investments, the federal agency said in its own news release.

The New Orleans agency and EPA will be working on the arrangement, with the aim of getting the first payment in mid-2020.

“We’re confident the negotiations with EPA will go smoothly, and we’re looking forward to the partnership this process will forge for the future,” chief financial officer Yvette Downs said.

New Orleans’ sewer and sewage treatment system has been under a federal court consent decree with EPA since 1998 for violating the Clean Water Act for “sanitary sewer overflow violations” that sent untreated sewage into Lake Pontchartrain, the Mississippi River and other waterways. Deadlines were extended three times after Hurricane Katrina flooded 80 percent of the city in 2005.

It said the loan will speed up work on the others and gives the agency the flexibility to move future money toward other critical projects.

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