EPA Awards California $609 Million in Historic Federal Funding to Improve Water Quality
SAN FRANCISCO (November 2, 2022) — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced funding to the State of California for water infrastructure improvements under the Biden-Harris Administration’s historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). California has been awarded more than $609 million in capitalization grants through the State Revolving Funds (SRFs) to supplement the state’s annual base SRF funding of $144 million.
The announcement was made at the Keyes Community Services District (Keyes CSD), a community water system that was recently awarded $10.4 million in SRF loan forgiveness funding, to improve drinking water quality and compliance at four groundwater wells serving several small, disadvantaged communities in the area.
“Just over five years ago, our community was confronting a failing drinking water system,” said Ernest Garza, General Manager of the Keyes Community Service District. “But with assistance through the State Revolving Fund, we were able to consolidate multiple smaller systems, insert a treatment system for arsenic, and afford the system’s long-term operation and maintenance. And now, again with SRF assistance through a $10 million grant, we are adding a filtration system to capture 1,2,3-Trichloropropane. The cost of all these would have been prohibitive—increasing rates beyond what our community could bear. Without these grants, we would not be able to provide safe drinking water to our customers.”
The capitalization grants mark the first significant distribution of water infrastructure investments to California following passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The BIL allocates more than $50 billion toward repairing the nation’s essential water infrastructure, in turn helping communities access clean, safe and reliable drinking water, prevent flooding, collect and treat wastewater to protect public health, and safeguard vital waterways.
“All communities need access to clean, reliable, safe water,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “Thanks to President Biden’s leadership and the resources from the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are repairing aging water infrastructure, replacing lead service lines, cleaning up contaminants, and making our communities more resilient in the face of floods and climate impacts.”
“President Biden has been clear—we cannot leave any community behind as we rebuild America’s water infrastructure,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman. “With the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, nearly half of the additional State Revolving Funds will now be grants or fully forgivable loans, making access to these critical water resources easier for small, rural, and disadvantaged communities such as the community here in Keyes, California.”
The California State Water Resources Control Board is the administrator of the state’s Clean Water and Drinking Water SRF programs, providing communities a permanent, independent source of low-cost financing for a wide range of water quality infrastructure projects.
“In just the last two years alone, California has invested $9 billion to make our communities more drought-resilient and our partnership with the Biden-Harris Administration will further accelerate our efforts,” said Yana Garcia, California Secretary for Environmental Protection. “Adding this historic federal funding provides nothing short of a transformational opportunity to upgrade our aging infrastructure so it can withstand the impacts of drought and climate change. We are grateful for the support of federal partners who share the same bold vision and sense of responsibility toward the future that has driven our state’s environmental policies for decades.”
EPA’s State Revolving Funds are part of President Biden’s Justice40 initiative, which aims to deliver at least 40% of the benefits from certain federal programs to underserved communities. Furthermore, nearly half the funding available through the SRFs, thanks to the BIL, must be grants or forgivable loans that remove barriers to investing in essential water infrastructure in underserved communities across rural America and in urban centers.
Capitalization grants will continue to be awarded, on a state-by-state basis, over the course of the next four years. As grants are awarded, the state SRF programs can begin to distribute the funds as grants and loans to communities across their state.
“Drought and climate change are exposing the limitations of our 20th century water infrastructure, which decades of exclusion and disinvestment in disadvantaged communities have only exacerbated,” said E. Joaquin Esquivel, chair of the State Water Resources Control Board. “To overcome these challenges, the State Water Board will leverage our financial resources, like the BIL funding, to increase levels of loan forgiveness so that we can help more struggling systems provide safe drinking water and adapt to our changed climate."
More information about funding is available on EPA’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law webpage.