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U.S. EPA Announces Nearly $500 Million for Water Infrastructure Projects in Northern California

Nov 10, 2020

SAN FRANCISCO (November 10, 2020) — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced three Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loans totaling $497 million to the cities of Sunnyvale, San Mateo, and Foster City in Northern California to help improve wastewater management while benefiting public health, water quality, and the environment. These loans are especially important to citizens of Bay area communities that have been impacted by lingering sanitation issues in the greater San Francisco Bay. 

“WIFIA loans are playing a critical role in President Trump’s commitment to improving America’s environmental health and upgrading the nation’s infrastructure,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Water quality issues in the Bay have been a specific concern for me and the administration and I am glad these loans will benefit the health and wellbeing of these communities.”

“Through the WIFIA program, EPA is proud to support efforts to modernize wastewater infrastructure that will help protect San Francisco Bay,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator John Busterud. “The projects we are supporting will result in good paying jobs, build stronger economies, and protect the environment here in the nation’s Pacific Southwest.”

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. With these three WIFIA loans, EPA has announced 40 WIFIA loans that are providing $7.7 billion in credit assistance to help finance $16.6 billion for water infrastructure while creating more than 38,200 jobs and saving ratepayers $3.6 billion. Since March 2020, WIFIA has announced 24 loans and updated six existing loans with lower interest rates. These recent announcements will save ratepayers over $1.5 billion.

$220 Million to the City of Sunnyvale

EPA’s WIFIA loan will help finance the Sunnyvale Cleanwater Program, a series of long-term projects to upgrade the city’s wastewater treatment plant. Specifically, the loan will finance upgrades to the existing secondary and tertiary treatment facilities, construction of new secondary and biosolids handling facilities, and reconstruction of the support facilities necessary to operate the plant. In addition to improved wastewater management that will protect water quality in the San Francisco Bay, the project will improve the plant’s energy efficiency and biosolids processing.

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“Federal support is essential for critical infrastructure projects like our Cleanwater Program – the largest capital project in our City’s history,” said Sunnyvale Mayor Larry Klein. “This partnership with EPA helps us continue to serve our community, protect the South San Francisco Bay and meet our long-term sustainability goals.”

“EPA’s low-interest WIFIA loan saves our ratepayers money and gives us valuable funding flexibility to complete this 20-year project,” said City Manager Kent Steffens. “We used federal funding to help build our wastewater treatment facility. Decades later, securing this loan is a testament to that continued support and our team’s hard work on the renovation master plan.”

EPA’s WIFIA loan will finance nearly half of the total project cost of $450 million. The remaining project funds will come from revenue bonds and system funds. The WIFIA loan will save the City of Sunnyvale an estimated $160 million. Project construction and operation are expected to create 1,800 jobs.

$277 million to the City of San Mateo and the Foster City Estero Municipal Improvement District (Foster City)

EPA’s WIFIA loans will provide approximately $210 million for the City of San Mateo and $67 million for the Estero Municipal Improvement District/City of Foster City, respectively, to jointly finance upgrades to the aging San Mateo wastewater treatment plant. The loans will support expansion of the wastewater treatment plant to include new treatment facilities designed to meet current and future regulatory requirements. It will also increase the system’s capacity to manage wastewater during storms, helping eliminate sewer overflows and pollutant discharges into the San Francisco Bay.

“As we sought funding solutions for our $1 billion program, the WIFIA loan funding became vital to our financing structure and we are thankful for the encouragement from our City Council and the advocacy of our federal partners to see it through,” said City of San Mateo Public Works Director Brad Underwood.

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“I pushed for this loan from the EPA and I am pleased that the importance of this project registered with the agency. This loan will allow San Mateo and Foster City to create the most modern, environmentally-sensitive treatment plant in our state,” said Rep. Jackie Speier (CA-14). “This low interest loan will be critical to achieving this goal and is extremely beneficial to the residents of my district and our environment. Bravo to these three cities for creating a successful and competitive package.”

EPA’s WIFIA loan will finance nearly half of the total project cost of $566 million. The remaining project funds for each loan will come from a combination of bonds, system funds, and other loans. The WIFIA loans will save the City of San Mateo an estimated $43.5 million and the Estero Municipal Improvement District an estimated $12 million. Project construction and operation are expected to create more than 1,800 jobs.

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.

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.

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