Funding to advance water improvements in Edmond, OKC

Over its history, the Oklahoma Drinking Water State Revolving Fund program has facilitated approximately $1.8 billion in drinking water loans to communities across the state. (Photo by Jacek Dylag on Unsplash)

The City of Edmond will be able to make major water infrastructure investments after receiving funding approval of more than $268 million through the Oklahoma Water Resources Board.

The OWRB also recently announced that more than $31 million in funding has been approved for infrastructure projects in Oklahoma City, and that Elk City, Enid, Grandfield and several other municipalities have also been approved for projects in fund through Oklahoma Drinking Water State. Revolving fund.

Kris Neifing, Water Resources Manager for the City of Edmond, said the low-interest loan arrangements facilitated by the OWRB are extremely helpful in offsetting the costs of expensive projects. It has been calculated that customers of Edmond’s Office of Public Works will save $9.8 million over the term of three 30-year loans compared to traditional financing.

Neifing said he would expect work to begin this summer on a multi-year phase of a project to increase the capacity of the city’s 40-year-old water treatment plant by 12 million. gallons to 30 million gallons per day.

Other future projects will be undertaken to increase the city’s ability to draw water from Lake Arcadia. A long-term plan is to be able to draw 65 million gallons per day.

“The overall goal is to be resilient not only to droughts, but also with backup power and to meet the current and future needs of our customers,” Neifing said.

According to an OWRB statement, the loans are to be secured by a lien on revenue from the authority’s water, sewer, sewerage and electrical systems and a 2-cent sales tax.

“We appreciate the board’s consideration and assistance on all of our loans now and over the past few years,” Neifing said.

Joe Freeman, head of the OWRB’s Financial Aid Division, said amounts approved for other municipalities in the past were larger, but Edmond’s funding amount was quite significant.

“It’s a pretty massive project that Edmond is taking on,” he said. “This is one of the most important projects we have ever funded. It saves them a lot of money. »

Two requests totaling $185 million will be funded by the DWSRF, including $1 million of the loan in the form of loan forgiveness. A third loan totaling $83.2 million will be financed under the Financial Assistance Loans Program.

The DWSRF program is administered by the OWRB and the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality with partial funding from the US Environmental Protection Agency. Over its history, the program has provided approximately $1.8 billion in drinking water loans to communities.

Since 1983, the Oklahoma Water Resources Board has approved more than $5.5 billion in loans and grants for improving water and wastewater infrastructure throughout Oklahoma.

Freeman said a key benefit for municipalities is that they are able to lock in low interest rates and withdraw cash as needed, which provides planning flexibility.

Oklahoma City Utilities manager Chris Browning also noted significant savings.

“The half billion in loans the Trust has taken out with the OWRB saves our taxpayers a tremendous amount of money. We appreciate this relationship and partnership that has formed,” he said.

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