EPA Announces $348.6 Million Water Infrastructure Loan to Salt Lake City
Nationally, EPA’s 28 WIFIA loans are helping finance more than $13 billion in water infrastructure projects
SALT LAKE CITY (September 17, 2020) – Today, at an event with Salt Lake City Council Chairman Chris Wharton, Utah Department of Environmental Quality Executive Director Scott Baird, Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities Deputy Director Jesse Stewart and other dignitaries, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Associate Deputy Administrator Doug Benevento announced a $348.6 million Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (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.
“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 EPA Associate Deputy Administrator 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 Water Reclamation Facility Nutrient Project will reconstruct Salt Lake City’s 55-year old water reclamation facility and implement an additional treatment process to meet new regulatory total phosphorus limits and increase 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.
“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.”
"Water is 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 notrogen 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.”
WIFIA is providing financial support at a critical time as the federal government, EPA, and the water sector work together to help mitigate the public health and financial impacts of COVID-19. 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. 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 while creating 27,200 jobs and saving ratepayers $2.7 billion.
Background on WIFIA
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.
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 https://www.epa.gov/wifia.