WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a $196 million Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan to the Inland Empire Utilities Agency in San Bernardino County, Calif. The loan will help finance expanded wastewater treatment capacity to support public health and the environment in this growing community.
“Through WIFIA, EPA is playing a key role in President Trump’s efforts to improve and upgrade our nation’s water infrastructure in communities across the country,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “With this transaction closing, EPA has now issued 21 WIFIA loans totaling $4.4 billion in credit assistance to help finance $9.8 billion for water infrastructure projects while creating 21,000 jobs.”
The purpose of the Regional Water Recycling Plant No. 5 (RP-5) Expansion Project is to expand the plant’s liquids treatment capacity and construct a new solids handling facility. The liquids treatment capacity of RP-5 will be increased from 15 million gallons per day to 22.5 million gallons per day to support expected service area growth. The new solids handling facility replaces the existing facility at Regional Water Recycling Plant #2 as the existing facility will be within the Prado floodplain once the Prado Dam spillway height is increased. The project will meet all regulatory requirements, utilize energy efficient equipment, and continue to provide recycled water to the service area.
“The ongoing drought conditions in the Inland Empire and across California make it more important than ever to ensure local water supplies are reliable, safe and clean,” said Representative Norma Torres (CA-35). “This $196 million Water Infrastructure Loan from EPA will help the Inland Empire Utilities Agency expand its wastewater treatment capacity. The increase in local supply means our community will be less beholden to outside sources, and more water secure in the years to come.”
“Our region knows all too well the importance of preparing for droughts and investing in our water infrastructure,” said Representative Pete Aguilar (CA-31). “This funding will help the Inland Empire manage our water resources wisely in order to be better prepared for dry years. As the Vice Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, I’m proud to support these types of investments in communities like San Bernardino County.”
“Not only will this project provide residents with an additional local water supply, it will also ensure the community is more resilient against periods of drought,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator John Busterud. “Particularly in arid areas like San Bernardino County, these infrastructure improvements will pay dividends decades into the future.”
“The RP-5 Expansion Project will expand the treatment capacity of the existing facility to support the continued growth in western San Bernardino County, and will meet all regulatory requirements, utilize energy efficient equipment, and continue to provide recycled water to the service area,” said IEUA Board President Kati Parker. “Since 2000, IEUA has been able to leverage state and federal partnerships to help fund critical infrastructure projects and keep our wastewater rates among the lowest in southern California. The WIFIA loan will continue our successful federal partnership with the EPA and provide 49 percent in low-interest financing for the RP-5 Expansion Project.”
This project will cost $450 million. EPA’s WIFIA loan will finance nearly half of that figure—up to $196 million. Additionally, California State Water Board's Clean Water State Revolving Fund will finance approximately $100 million with the remaining project funds coming from a combination of borrower funds and grants. The WIFIA loan will save the Inland Empire Utilities Agency an estimated $153 million compared to typical bond financing. Project construction and operation are expected to create 1,280 jobs.