The WIFIA loan will go towards treating Orange County wastewater to provide an additional 30 million gpd of drinking water
The U.S. EPA announced a $135 million Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan to the Orange County Water District of Orange County, Calif., to help finance its groundwater replenishment system final expansion. The announcement was made by EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest Mike Stoker at the project’s future site on Ward Street in Fountain Valley.
With EPA’s WIFIA loan, the Orange County Water District (OCWD) will purify treated wastewater from the Orange County Sanitation District to produce an additional 30 million gpd of drinking water, which will be stored in the Orange County Groundwater Basin. This additional drought-proof drinking water supply reduces the region’s need to import water, benefits the environment through reduced discharges into the ocean and increases replenishment of the local groundwater source.
The Orange County Water District estimates the project will cost $282 million. EPA’s WIFIA loan will help finance nearly half that amount—up to $135 million. Because the WIFIA program offers loans with low interest rates, the Orange County Water District is expected to save up to $16 million compared to municipal bonds. Project construction is expected to create 700 jobs and is scheduled to begin in 2019 and be completed in 2023.
In addition to significant cost savings, a WIFIA loan permits extended repayment terms of up to 35 years, the ability to repay at any time without penalty, subordination in payment priority to other debt, flexibility when the loan is drawn with no interest accrual until funds are disbursed, and the opportunity to use the loan with other assistance like the State Revolving Fund for the remaining 51% of a project’s cost.