The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has invited four California water districts to apply for federally guaranteed loans for new projects under the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA)
WIFIAloans are designed to kick-start projects under the 2014 law. In this fiscal year, the WIFIAprogram received $25 million, including an additional $8 million in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017 which was signed into law by President Donald Trump on May 5, 2017. This year’s projects will also leverage more than a billion dollars in private capital and other funding sources including EPA’s State Revolving Fund (SRF) loans, to help finance a total of $5.1 billion in water infrastructure investments. The selected projects demonstrate the broad range of project types that the WIFIA program can finance including wastewater, drinking water, stormwater, and water recycling projects.
This year’s projects were selected from a group of projects that represent 27 large and small communities from across the United States. The four California projects include work for contractors in Orange County, San Diego, Moro Bay and San Francisco.
The Orange County Water District (OCWD) will apply for a $124 million WIFIAloan. The project will include enhancements to the district’s groundwater replenishment system, expanding the existing water recycling plant from 100 million gallons a day to 130 million gallons a day by using treated wastewater from the Orange County Sanitation District Plant #2. The project will add another 31,000 acre-feet of water supply each year, enough water to supply more than 75,000 households, and reduce the amount of imported water needed from Northern California and the Colorado River.
“We are grateful to the EPA for preapproving OCWD to access WIFIAfunding for the final expansion of the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS), which is the world’s largest advanced water purification facility of its kind,” Said Denis Bilodeau, OCWD president.
The City of Morro Bay’s project focuses on water recycling in requesting an $82 million loan. Through the project, the city will remove and replace its 63-year-old Morro BayCayucos Wastewater Treatment Plant with a new water recycling facility.
San Diego is asking for $492 million for its Pure Water San Diego project. The city will use the funds to construct San Diego’s multi-year Pure Water program that will convey 30 million gallons of purified water per day to the Miramar Reservoir, enough to supply one-third of the city’s drinking water needs.
The San Francisco Public Utility Commission’s project focuses on wastewater treatment system updates to the tune of $625 million. The project will replace SFPUC’s outdated 60-year old solids treatment facility with upgraded infrastructure that will produce “higher-quality” bio-solids and maximize biogas utilization and energy recovery.
All the loans will be coupled with additional from the state Clean Water Revolving Fund and will ultimately be repaid through higher local water/sewer charged to local users, both commercial and residential.