Shawnee Municipal Authority receives $13.5M in loans for wastewater system improvements

Oklahoma Water Resources Board

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Shawnee Municipal Authority (Authority) received approval Tuesday for $13,500,000 in funds from the Oklahoma Water Resources Board (OWRB) to be financed by the Oklahoma Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF).  

The authority plans to use $1.5 million of the approved funds to construct approximately 12.4 acres of wetland, as well as a sedimentation forebasin, which is designed to reduce sedimentation into the Wes Watkins Resevoir.

A review of the watershed and land-use nearby revealed that "erosion and sediment delivered from past, present, and future sources entered the (Wes Watkins) lake through Deer Creek and that land owned by the Pottawatomie County Development Authority (PCDA) between the reservoir headwaters and I-40 could help to reduce sedimentation to the watershed."

Maintenance of the sedimentation basin by Pottawatomie County Development Authority (PCDA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and City of Shawnee is estimated to prevent 26.55 acre feet of sediment loading to Wes Wakins Reservoir over a 20-year period.

The authority was previously approved for $12 million in funding for wastewater system upgrades, and will pair this March 2021 request with the loan proceeds of the previous request.

Water Quality Division Director of the Oklahoma Conservation Commission Shanon Phillips said, “While several communities have considered the use of a wetland to protect drinking water supply reservoirs, most have not been able to develop a partnership to protect the long-term use of such a structure. This project could serve as an example for other communities.”

The authority’s nonpoint source project is a pilot for OWRB’s Sponsorship Program designed to address a water quality issue or initiative which must be approved under the state’s Nonpoint Source Management Plan (NPSM). The Sponsorship model allows for a nonpoint source project to receive a reduced interest rate when paired with traditional or non-traditional State Revolving Fund (SRF) loan funded projects. $5 million will be made available by OWRB for Sponsorship opportunities within the state.

Joe Freeman, chief of the OWRB’s Financial Assistance Division, calculated that the authority’s customers will save an estimated $3,076,000 over the life of the 30-year loan compared to traditional financing. The CWSRF loan will be secured with a lien on the revenues of the authority’s water and sewer systems. 

The CWSRF program is administered by the Oklahoma Water Resources Board with partial funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  The CWSRF program has provided approximately $1.8 billion in water quality loans to provide communities the resources necessary to maintain and improve the infrastructure that protects our valuable water resources statewide.

Since 1983, the Oklahoma Water Resources Board has approved over $5.1 billion in loans and grants for water and wastewater infrastructure improvements throughout Oklahoma.

“We are grateful to State Senator Shane Jett and State Representative Dell Kerbs for their support of our financial assistance programs,” said Julie Cunningham, executive director of the OWRB.