EPA Announces $250 Million WIFIA Loan to Modernize Water Infrastructure in San Francisco Bay Area

 
01/19/2022

At a virtual press conference held earlier this week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest, Martha Guzman, announced a $250 million Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan to the Union Sanitary District in Union City, California. EPA’s WIFIA loan will help fund upgrades to the District’s aging water infrastructure to provide better wastewater treatment, reduce nutrient discharges to the San Francisco Bay, and increase resiliency to impacts of climate change. In the first year of the Biden-Harris administration, EPA closed 29 WIFIA loans that are investing over $5 billion in communities across the country to protect public health and the environment while creating over 36,000 jobs.

“Through the WIFIA program, we are improving California’s water infrastructure to better deliver safe drinking water, protect our natural resources, and build stronger, more resilient local economies,” said Martha Guzman, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “We are happy to support Union Sanitary District and their project, which will help protect our cherished San Francisco Bay, and we look forward to accelerating investments in water infrastructure under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.”

Union Sanitary District operates a 33-acre wastewater treatment facility that serves over 357,000 customers in Fremont, Newark, and Union City. The District’s Enhanced Treatment and Site Upgrade Phase 1 Projects will support implementation of the San Francisco Bay Nutrient Management Strategy by improving treatment quality for up to 33 million gallons of wastewater per day. The project will reduce 50 percent of the facility’s nitrogen discharges and 90 percent of its ammonia discharges to the San Francisco Bay on an annual basis. In addition to improving water quality in the Bay, the projects are also designed to bolster the facility’s resilience to wet weather events and the impacts of climate change.

“This federal support is the financial cornerstone of USD’s Enhanced Treatment and Site Upgrade (ETSU) Phase 1 program, a multi-year improvement project that provides significant engineering, operational, and environmental benefits,” said General Manager Paul Eldredge. “USD is proud to collaborate with the EPA to proactively improve water quality in the San Francisco Bay through enhanced wastewater treatment processes and nutrient removal as we renew and replace aging infrastructure for the 21st century. The EPA’s low-cost financing will help ensure modernized, reliable, cost-effective service to customers and will deliver benefits to the San Francisco Bay Area for many years to come.”

“I greatly appreciate our Board of Directors’ foresight regarding the District’s infrastructure planning as we carefully developed a long-term strategy to meet today’s challenges while preparing for Fremont, Newark, and Union City’s wastewater needs for the next 40 years,” said Eldredge. “The Board’s guidance and counsel are vital as we move forward with ETSU’s essential projects.” With EPA’s WIFIA loan, the Union Sanitary District will save approximately $50 million over the life of the project, which will support regional efforts to protect water quality in the San Francisco Bay. Project construction and operation are expected to create an estimated 1,630 jobs and construction is expected to be completed in 2028.  “Federal support will help Union Sanitary improve water quality for thousands of Californians living in the Bay Area,” Senator Alex Padilla said. “I have been proud to support this project, as it’s a necessary investment in important regional infrastructure.” “For decades, the Union Sanitary District has provided first-rate wastewater collection, treatment, and disposal services throughout California’s 15th Congressional District and the Eastern Bay,” said Congressman Eric Swalwell. “I was proud to help support their application for a Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loan to support its Enhanced Treatment and Site Upgrade program that will upgrade and replace critical infrastructure, help manage the effects of a changing environment, and create jobs.” President Biden’s leadership and bipartisan Congressional action have delivered the single-largest investment in U.S. water infrastructure ever. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law invests more than $50 billion through EPA’s highly successful water infrastructure programs. With this funding and EPA’s WIFIA loans, states, Tribes, and localities have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to strengthen and rebuild America’s water infrastructure. EPA will ensure that all communities get their fair share of this federal water infrastructure investment—especially disadvantaged communities. This funding will put Americans to work in good-paying jobs and support a thriving economy.

Background

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, visit:?https://www.epa.gov/wifia

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