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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael S. Regan joined San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, Congressman Scott Peters, California State Senate President Pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins, State Water Resources Control Board Chair Joaquin Esquivel, and other officials to break ground on the Pure Water San Diego project and announce a new $120 million Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan to support the project. The Pure Water San Diego project will create a local, more drought-resilient water source while improving ocean water quality.
“Climate stress is often experienced as water stress, something California knows all too well,” said EPA Administrator Michael Regan. “That’s why we’re prioritizing investments in innovative projects like Pure Water San Diego, which will improve the city’s resilience to climate change impacts, protect water quality, and support economic vitality by creating jobs.”
“Sweeping drought conditions worsened by climate change have made meeting our water needs an enduring challenge,” said Congressman Scott Peters. “San Diego is on the leading edge of water recycling with our Pure Water program. It will deploy cost-effective technology that will enhance our region’s water sources—technology that could one day be used by other communities to address water shortages.”
EPA has partnered with the city by helping to finance the project through Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loans, including a $614 million loan in 2018 and a $120 million loan this year. The project will create a reliable, sustainable, and drought-proof water supply for San Diego and reduce reliance on imported water by constructing a new water recycling facility to produce 30 million gallons per day of purified water. This purified recycled water will blend with imported and locally sourced water and will be treated again at the Miramar Water Treatment Plant before being distributed to the public.
The project is the first phase in a multi-year Pure Water Program that will use proven technology to clean recycled water into safe, high quality, drinking water and provide one-third of the city’s water supply by 2035 while diverting wastewater flows away from the Point Loma ocean discharge plant. The project will include new pump stations and conveyance systems, expansion of the existing North City Water Reclamation Plant, and improvements to the existing Miramar Reservoir Pump Station.
“We are grateful for the WIFIA loans which will greatly assist the City of San Diego in completing the Pure Water Program to become less reliant on imported water,” said Matthew Vespi, Chief Financial Officer for the City of San Diego. “By 2035, our residents will receive nearly half of our water from Pure Water, allowing San Diego to lead the way as a sustainable and resilient city.”
“The EPA’s support of our Pure Water Program acknowledges the significance of this infrastructure investment to help meet our long-term water needs,” said Shauna Lorance, Director of Public Utilities for the City of San Diego. “It is a sound investment in a proven technology to produce safe, high-quality drinking water.”
The project will cost $1.5 billion and the recent WIFIA loan, combined with the previous loan closed in 2018, will finance nearly half of that figure. EPA estimates this loan will save the City an additional $27 million dollars, bringing the total project savings to $500 million from financing with WIFIA loans compared to conventional financing instruments. EPA expects project construction and operation to create an estimated 4,800 jobs.
EPA has announced 56 WIFIA loans that are providing $10.6 billion in credit assistance to help finance $23 billion for water infrastructure while creating approximately 62,000 jobs and saving ratepayers $4 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.
On August 16, 2021, EPA announced that the Agency had received 50 letters of interest in response to the agency’s 2021 Notices of Funding Availability. Requests totaling $8.2 billion exceed the agency’s $6.5 billion in available financing and highlight widespread needs for water infrastructure upgrades to benefit communities across the country. Later this year, the agency will identify projects it intends to finance and invite those selected entities to submit formal applications. For more information about the FY 2021 selection process, visit: https://www.epa.gov/wifia/wifia-funding-currently-available.
For more information about the WIFIA program’s accomplishments through 2020, visit: https://www.epa.gov/wifia/wifia-annual-report.
For more information about the WIFIA program, visit https://www.epa.gov/wifia.
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