EPA announces new WIFIA loans totaling more than $415 million

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced two new Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loans at events in Oceanside, Calif. and Salt Lake City, Utah. EPA’s 27th and 28th WIFIA loans will provide more than $415 million to help the local communities finance important water infrastructure projects—supporting an innovative water reuse project in Oceanside and improving water quality and system resiliency in Salt Lake City.

“WIFIA is playing a critical role in President Trump’s commitment to upgrade our nation’s infrastructure, improve public health and environmental protections, and create good, local jobs,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Over the past three years, including these two new loans, the Trump administration has helped finance over $40 billion dollars in clean water infrastructure, supporting 7,100 projects, and helping create 27,000 jobs across this great nation.”

Oceanside, California WIFIA Loan

EPA announced a $69 million WIFIA loan to help finance the Pure Water Oceanside Project. This innovative water reuse project will purify recycled water to create a new source of high-quality drinking water that is clean, safe, drought-proof and sustainable while benefitting the environment by reducing discharges into the ocean. The Project will supply Mission Basin with an additional 4.5 million gallons per day of highly purified water that will improve overall water quality in the aquifer, relieve over-pumping conditions and reduce discharges to the Pacific Ocean. The project will also reduce the demand for imported water by providing a local, drought-proof water supply produced by the city. This project will cost $158 million, and EPA’s WIFIA loan will finance nearly half of that figure. The remaining project funds will come from a combination of grants, water system revenue backed obligations, and system funds. The WIFIA loan will save the City of Oceanside an estimated $24 million compared to typical market financing. Project construction and operation are expected to create 622 jobs.

“EPA’s support for this project illustrates two agency priorities as we work to meet 21st century water demands—reusing the water that we have and revamping our nation’s water infrastructure,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water David Ross. “With WIFIA’s support, Pure Water Oceanside will be a landmark project as EPA looks to foster additional innovative water reuse strategies and infrastructure investments across the country.”

“By improving water infrastructure, we are improving the quality of life and public health in our communities,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator John Busterud. “Through the WIFIA loan program, EPA is happy to support the Pure Water Oceanside Project in ensuring access to clean and safe drinking water for decades to come.”

Salt Lake City WIFIA Loan

EPA also announced a $348.6 million WIFIA loan to the Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities. This WIFIA loan will help finance the city’s Water Reclamation Facility Nutrient Project, which will update the existing water reclamation facility to help comply with new state regulatory requirements and increase the system’s resiliency to earthquakes and flooding. Salt Lake City will reconstruct its 55-year old water reclamation facility while implementing an additional treatment process to meet new regulatory total phosphorus limits and also improving system resiliency. The project will enable the city to meet the new, state limit on total phosphorus of 1 mg/L as required by January 1, 2025. At completion, the project will reduce nutrient discharges to the Great Salt Lake. In addition, the project will increase the system’s resiliency to seismic and flooding events. This project will cost $711.6 million, and EPA’s WIFIA loan will finance nearly half of that figure. The remaining project funds will come from a combination of revenue bonds and system funds. The WIFIA loan will save Salt Lake City an estimated $102 million compared to market financing. Project construction and operation are expected to create 440 jobs.

“Through WIFIA, EPA is playing a critical role in President Trump’s efforts to upgrade our nation’s infrastructure, improve public health and environmental protections, and create good, local jobs,” said Associate Deputy Administrator for EPA Doug Benevento. “This loan closing marks EPA’s 28th WIFIA loan and the first WIFIA loan in Utah. Nationally, the WIFIA program has now provided $6.1 billion in credit assistance to help finance $13 billion for water infrastructure while creating 27,200 jobs.”

“The reconstruction of Salt Lake City’s aging water reclamation facility and EPA’s financing tools provide an important win for the entire region,” said EPA Mountains and Plains Regional Administrator Greg Sopkin. “Together, we are improving the environmental and ecosystem health of the Great Salt Lake, improving the resiliency of the community’s vital wastewater services, saving the city and its ratepayers money, and creating jobs in the process.”

What Are They Saying About the WIFIA Loans:

“I am proud and excited for the City of Oceanside and everyone who has worked so hard on the Pure Water Oceanside project. Now more than ever, it’s critically important that we diversify our water supply. Thanks to Pure Water Oceanside, the City of Oceanside, and this EPA loan, we are one step closer to achieving that independence,” said U.S. Representative Mike Levin (CA). “This is an extraordinary milestone and will make a huge difference for countless families in North County. The cooperation between local, state, and federal governments is truly impressive, and I’ll continue to support this project in any way I can.”

“The City of Oceanside is proud to be a leader in sustainability and water reliability. Pure Water Oceanside marks the next big step for our City as the project will safeguard against drought, reduce our dependence on imported water, and create an exceptionally pure drinking water supply,” said Oceanside Mayor Peter Weiss. “I appreciate the U.S. EPA in their funding support as it is a critical aspect for Oceanside’s ability to continue to improve our local water supplies while minimizing our impact to our rate payers.”

“Water is a vital resource in the West and we need to make long term plans to ensure a safe and plentiful supply,” said U.S. Representative John Curtis (UT). “I appreciate that this WIFIA loan will help Utah for decades to come by updating water infrastructure, allowing our children and grandchildren to have cleaner water than ever before.”

“The new water reclamation facility is one of the largest public works projects in Salt Lake City history,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall. “With federal WIFIA financing, our residents will benefit from a longer loan repayment period and deferred payments for up to five years after the project’s completion. This creative financing model, along with collaboration of federal, state, and local agencies, is pivotal to growing our infrastructure and to providing service and greater equity to our entire community.”

“EPA’s help in financing the Salt Lake City Water Reclamation Facility will protect public health and the environment by upgrading a vital piece of local infrastructure critical to protecting the Great Salt Lake,” said Utah’s Department of Environmental Quality Executive Director Scott Baird. “Nutrient pollution is a widespread and costly environmental issue. With the help of EPA, Salt Lake City and state lawmakers, Utah is making important strides in reducing and regulating excess nitrogen and phosphorus in Utah waters.”

“Our decision to pursue a WIFIA loan for the new water reclamation facility was a key piece of our leadership team’s deliberative financial strategy for the project and responsible spending of public dollars,” said Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities Director Laura Briefer. “We estimate WIFIA financing will save our City up to $100 million over the life of the project when compared to traditional bonding. This facility will serve many generations to come, and it is evidence of Salt Lake City’s longtime commitment to environmental stewardship and protecting public health.”

Established by the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 2014, the WIFIA program is a federal loan and guarantee program administered by EPA. WIFIA’s aim is to accelerate investment in the nation’s water infrastructure by providing long-term, low-cost supplemental credit assistance for regionally and nationally significant projects. The WIFIA program has an active pipeline of pending applications for projects that will result in billions of dollars in water infrastructure investment and thousands of jobs. Since the beginning of March 2020, WIFIA has closed twelve loans and updated three existing loans with lower interest rates. These recent efforts by EPA’s WIFIA program will save ratepayers over $1 billion compared to typical market financing. Since the first WIFIA loan closed in April 2018, EPA has issued 28 WIFIA loans totaling $6.1 billion in credit assistance to help finance $13 billion for water infrastructure projects while creating 27,200 jobs and saving ratepayers $2.7 billion.

EPA is currently accepting Letters of Interest for FY 2020. Approximately $5 billion in financing is available. For more information about the FY 2020 selection process, visit: https://www.epa.gov/wifia/wifia-funding-currently-available.

For more information about the WIFIA program’s accomplishments through 2019, visit: https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-announces-first-wifia-annual-report-highlighting-35-billion-infrastructure-funding.

For more information about the WIFIA program, visit epa.gov/wifia.

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