The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a $436 million loan to the Indiana Finance Authority to support water infrastructure projects across the state.
The loan was issued as part of the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, a 2014 law that established a federal credit program for public and private water and wastewater infrastructure projects.
“When we say infrastructure, we often think of our roads, but Indiana has more than 46,000 miles of water infrastructure,” said Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb at a press conference in Indianapolis. “Delivering clean water and protecting public health are top priorities, and I am grateful that our partnership with the EPA will help empower communities across Indiana to take our water systems to the next level.”
The state will combine the loan money with funds from the Indiana State Revolving Fund to lend a total of $900 million to support water projects in 20 communities.
The need for water infrastructure improvements will become more apparent as climate change keeps modifying the way precipitation falls in the state.
According to researchers at the Indiana Climate Change Impacts Assessment, the type of precipitation and when it falls are changing and will continue to change.
The researchers found that the rate of precipitation change has quadrupled since 1959. The state gets an additional 1.33 inches of precipitation every decade. By mid-century, Indiana will see about 6 to 8% more yearly rainfall than it averaged in the past.
The ICCIA researchers also found that climate change has affected and will continue to affect the number of days with extreme precipitation events. That means there will be more precipitation in shorter amounts of time, potentially overwhelming wastewater systems.
“This investment will help Hoosiers across the state, including those in rural communities, receive important funding to strengthen and improve their water infrastructure,” said Rep. Dr. Larry Bucschon, R-Evansville. “As a physician, I understand the importance clean and reliable water infrastructure plays in the health of our citizens and the vitality of our agriculture.”
The loan will provide $547.5 million to fund the Dig Indy Tunnel system, a 28-mile long network of 18-foot diameter deep rock tunnels built 250 ft. beneath the city of Indianapolis. The $2 billion project is projected to reduce sewer overflows by up to 97%.
The city of Evansville will receive a loan of $182.4 million for Long Term Control Plan implementation projects to address combined sewer overflows into the Ohio River, Bee Slough and Pigeon Creek.
Many of the loans will help communities improve water treatment plants, which should improve the drinking water quality for residents.
The state will also provide loans communities with less than 1,000 residents like Marshall, Patoka, Schneider and Shirley.