EPA Updates WIFIA Loan, Saving More Money for San Diego Ratepayers
SAN DIEGO (September 2, 2020) — Today, at an event in San Diego, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler will announce an update to the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan with the City of San Diego, California. This action lowers the WIFIA loan’s interest rate, saving ratepayers an additional $290 million over the life of the loan.
“This cost-saving update showcases a key flexibility of EPA’s successful WIFIA program that allows the City of San Diego to save ratepayers even more money while doubling down on its efforts to improve water quality and protecting public health,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Through WIFIA, EPA is playing a critical role in President Trump’s efforts to upgrade infrastructure and benefit communities across the nation.”
“By updating its WIFIA loan with EPA, the City of San Diego will save millions in interest rates while providing an additional local drinking water supply for the City’s residents,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator John Busterud. “EPA is happy to support the City of San Diego and its Pure Water Program in providing safe and reliable water for decades to come.”
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. Since the beginning of March 2020, the WIFIA program has closed ten loans and updated two existing loans. These recent efforts will save ratepayers over $1 billion compared to alternative financing tools. Since the program’s inception, EPA has issued 26 WIFIA loans totaling $5.6 billion in credit assistance to help finance $12.4 billion for water infrastructure projects while saving ratepayers $2.6 billion over traditional financing tools and creating 26,000 jobs.
“Pure Water will be the largest infrastructure project in the City’s history for all the right reasons as we help insulate our region from future droughts by delivering a locally-controlled water supply,” said San Diego Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer. “This action by the EPA will save tens of millions of dollars for San Diego ratepayers and further solidifies this as a worthy investment as we work together to address the future impacts of climate change.”
In November 2018, EPA announced a $614 million WIFIA loan to help finance the City of San Diego’s $1.4 billion Pure Water San Diego project. This new advanced treatment facility will produce 83 million gallons per day of purified water. Further, this is the first phase in the City’s multi-year Pure Water Program, which will use proven technology to clean non-potable recycled water into safe, high quality, drinking water and provide one-third of the City’s water supply by 2035. This project will save the City money through reduced imported water costs, benefit the environment through reduced discharges into the ocean, and provide a reliable and sustainable water supply for future generations.
The sustainability, security and resiliency benefits of this project highlight EPA’s commitments under the National Water Reuse Action Plan. The Action Plan frames the business case that water reuse is a viable and growing means of supporting our economy and improving the availability of freshwater for farmers, industry, communities, and ecosystems. The Action Plan identifies 37 specific actions across 11 strategic themes, including highlighting the potential for WIFIA to help finance water reuse projects.
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 and low-cost supplemental credit assistance for regionally and nationally significant projects. EPA’s WIFIA program plays an important part in President Trump’s infrastructure plan, which calls for expanding project eligibility. 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, visit: https://www.epa.gov/wifia.