EPA Highlights $216 Million in Water Infrastructure Loans in the West
Nationally, EPA’s 32 WIFIA loans are helping finance more than $13 billion in water infrastructure projects
WASHINGTON (October 2, 2020) — This week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced three new Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loans totaling $216 million for important water infrastructure projects in Tacoma, Washington, and the cities of Soquel and Stockton in California. This latest round of financing brings the total number of WIFIA loans issued nationwide by EPA to 32.
“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 three new loans, the Trump administration has helped finance over $40 billion dollars in clean water infrastructure, supporting 7,100 projects, and helping create 28,000 jobs across the nation.”
The WIFIA loans announced this week include:
$20 million to the City of Tacoma, WA
EPA’s WIFIA loan will help Tacoma modernize electrical distribution systems at the city’s primary wastewater treatment plant. The project will help protect the Puget Sound from unnecessary wastewater discharges by improving the reliability of Tacoma’s Central Wastewater Treatment Plant, which treats over 7 billion gallons of wastewater annually. The WIFIA loan will save the City of Tacoma an estimated $1.3 million compared to typical market financing while project construction and operation are expected to create 130 jobs.
“We’re proud to help Tacoma make this investment in the future,” said EPA Pacific Northwest Regional Administrator Chris Hladick. “Without adequate wastewater treatment capacity, no municipality can hope to meet the needs of growing communities and a thriving business and industrial base. These loans are crucially important to local projects that translate directly into good paying jobs, build stronger economies and protect the environment.”
$88 million to the Soquel Creek Water District, CA
EPA’s WIFIA loan will help finance Pure Water Soquel, an innovative water reuse project that will produce 1.3 million gallons per day of safe drinking water by purifying recycled water. The project will provide a reliable, sustainable, and drought-resistant water supply and prevent further intrusion of saltwater into the aquifer, supporting the preservation of a sustainable groundwater basin. The completed project will lessen the need for potential future diversions from sensitive waterways and reduce discharges of treated wastewater to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
The WIFIA loan will save the Soquel Creek Water District an estimated $66.7 million compared to typical market financing while project construction and operation are expected to create an estimated 581 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 Soquel will be a landmark project as EPA looks to foster additional innovative water reuse strategies and infrastructure investments across the country.”
“Monterey Bay plays a vital role in the region's marine health and biodiversity,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator John Busterud. “EPA’s financial support to the Soquel Creek Water District will help protect the Bay while replenishing local groundwater and ensuring that the community is more resilient against drought.”
$108 million to the Stockton Public Financing Authority, CA
EPA’s WIFIA loan will help the Stockton Public Financing Authority modernize the city’s wastewater treatment facility and reduce nitrogen discharges to the San Joaquin River. Upgrades to the system, including the construction of new aeration basins and associated secondary clarifiers, will support compliance with stricter regulatory limits for nitrogen compounds and improved water quality in the city’s surface water supply. With this loan, EPA is supporting a regionally significant project that will improve water quality and support public health and the economies of the California Delta. The WIFIA loan will save the city of Stockton an estimated $67 million compared to typical market financing while construction and operation are expected to create approximately 700 jobs.
“With the support of the WIFIA program, the City of Stockton will be able to upgrade the wastewater plant’s aging infrastructure,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator John Busterud. “These upgrades will not only improve working conditions for employees but also serve to protect the water quality in the California Delta.”
What Are They Saying About the WIFIA Loans
“The funds from the WIFIA loan will be used to upgrade an important city facility,” said Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards. “The city is grateful to the EPA and the WIFIA staff for their support to modernize the Central Wastewater Treatment Plant. Through this effort, our plant will remain state of the art, which allows it to protect the waters of Commencement Bay and the Puget Sound for decades to come.”
“The City of Tacoma is fortunate to receive financial assistance from the EPA for the CTP Electrical Distribution System Replacement project,” said City of Tacoma Environmental Services Director Mike Slevin. “The WIFIA funding is a major milestone that allows the project to proceed ahead of schedule. By proactively replacing aging high voltage power systems before failure, the project will help the city continue protecting the Puget Sound and its natural beauty for decades to come.”
“I want to congratulate the Soquel Creek Water District for this significant milestone in the history of the Pure Water Soquel project,” said U.S. Representative Jimmy Panetta (CA-20). “Seawater intrusion into critical groundwater supplies is of great concern throughout my coastal district, and with this low-interest loan, the District can begin the next phase project, helping ensure the long-term protection of our local water supply.”
“This very low-interest loan from WIFIA is a real landmark in Soquel Creek Water District’s efforts to address our critical water supply issues,” said California State Assembly Member Mark Stone. “We are so fortunate here in Santa Cruz County to benefit from this extraordinary level of support and funding from the U.S. EPA, as well as from our own State Water Board, which is making the difference in assuring long-term sustainability of the community’s drinking water supply.”
“Maintaining a clean, reliable supply of drinking water is clearly one of the most vital issues here and throughout California,” said Zach Friend of the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors. “With the help of this generous WIFIA loan from the EPA, the Soquel Creek Water District is poised to take a giant leap forward toward local water supply sustainability, by creating a new source of pure water, replenishing the groundwater, and preventing further seawater contamination.”
“We’re grateful to the EPA for this WIFIA loan, which will help the District in our roles as both our community's water supplier and environmental steward,” said Dr. Bruce Daniels, President of the Soquel Creek Water District Board of Directors. “Assuring the sustainability of our groundwater supply is paramount. With this loan, we’re able to accomplish that, while reducing the burden on our rate payers and providing a drought-proof water supply for today and future generations.”
“This low-interest loan represents a valuable partnership and investment among the District, the EPA and our local rate payers in support of our Pure Water Soquel Project,” said Ron Duncan, Soquel Creek Water District General Manager. “The project will replenish and protect the groundwater – our sole source of drinking water – from being further contaminated by saltwater intrusion, which is already detected in multiple locations. Thanks to the EPA and this WIFIA loan, we’re on track to implement Pure Water Soquel.”
“The WIFIA program accelerates investment in infrastructure of regional significance, supporting thoughtful urban planning and sustainable growth that reaffirms the City of Stockton’s commitment to become the best city in America to live, raise a family, and grow a business,” said Harry Black, City of Stockton Manager.
“In conjunction with the Delta Water Treatment Plant that opened in 2012, the modifications and upgrades to the Regional Wastewater Control Facility will complete the City of Stockton’s commitment to sustainable and responsible use of water,” said Dan Wright, City of Stockton Vice Mayor and Council Water Committee Chair. “The WIFIA Loan will save Stockton tens of millions of dollars in interest payments when compared to typical bond financing.”
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. Since the beginning of March 2020, WIFIA has announced sixteen loans and updated four 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. 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.