EPA announces 100th WIFIA loan to Santa Clara County

Feb. 24, 2023
EPA provided the 99th and 100th WIFIA loans, totaling $115 million, to support flood resilience and a seismic retrofit in Santa Clara County.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced two Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loans totaling $115 million to the Santa Clara Valley Water District in California. The announcement marks the 99th and 100th loans for EPA’s WIFIA program, which has now invested $17 billion in the nation’s water infrastructure.

“From our first loan to Seattle in 2018 to today’s announcement of our 100th loan to Santa Clara, EPA’s WIFIA program has benefited over 50 million people across the country and created 123,000 jobs,” said EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox. “Ensuring access to clean, safe water is essential. Thanks to the Biden-Harris Administration’s historic $50 billion investment in America through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the availability of other financing options like WIFIA, EPA’s efforts to address critical upgrades to water systems in communities is unprecedented.”

The two latest WIFIA loans will help provide flood resilience and improve the seismic resilience of a reservoir.

Of the two WIFIA loans, one provides $41 million to support the Safe, Clean, and Natural Flood Protection Program, and the other provides $74 million to support the planning and design costs of the Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit Project.

“We know making smart investments in water infrastructure and technology today remains the most cost-efficient way to ensure Santa Clara County has enough safe, clean water now and into the future,” said John L. Varela, Valley Water Board Chair. “Thanks to WIFIA, we can do this in a cost-effective manner to benefit our rate and taxpayers.”

The Safe, Clean, and Natural Flood Protection Program $41 million investment will help upgrade and add channel restoration projects in Sunnyvale, San Jose, and surrounding areas in California to manage stormwater that impacts residents, schools, and businesses. Additionally, Santa Clara Valley Water District will improve water quality by implementing erosion control measures that will protect wildlife habitats and enhance recreational opportunities adjacent to waterways.

The Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit Project will modernize Santa Clara Valley Water District’s largest reservoir to restore lost capacity, address seismic deficiencies, and protect public safety. Santa Clara Valley Water District’s initial $74 million WIFIA loan will support the planning and design costs of the project facilitating these critical first steps in advancing a major infrastructure improvement project. Santa Clara Valley Water District will use financing from a future WIFIA loan to construct the projects.

This is the first loan under another master agreement that will commit an additional $580 million in WIFIA assistance to accelerate implementation of Santa Clara Valley Water District’s nearly $1.2 billion Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit Project.

EPA estimates the Santa Clara Valley Water District will save approximately $47 million by financing these two loans with the WIFIA program. Furthermore, the District anticipates further savings – totaling $256 million – across both projects’ master agreements. Construction and operation are estimated to create 742 jobs.

The 100th WIFIA Loan

Established by the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 2014, the WIFIA program is a federal loan and guarantee program administered by EPA. The WIFIA program’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.

Since the WIFIA program’s inception six years ago, borrowers nationwide have closed 100 loans totaling $17 billion to help finance $36 billion in their critical water infrastructure projects. Borrowers have saved over $5 billion and created 123,000 jobs.

EPA says that these projects will benefit over 50 million people, resulting in 1.2 million people receiving safer drinking water and 1,100 million gallons per day of wastewater receiving more treatment before it is discharged to waterways.