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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan made his way to Redwood City on Tuesday to announce three water infrastructure loans that would invest $168 million to support projects in the Peninsula and East Bay.
The loans from the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) seek to upgrade water infrastructure throughout the nation so that it is safe and sustainable.
“I’ve seen firsthand the urgency of modernizing our nation’s water infrastructure and ensuring that it can withstand the impacts of climate change,” Regan said. “Investing in our water infrastructure is one of the best decisions we can make to improve the health of our communities, and the health of our economy.”
Two of the loans are allocated to Silicon Valley Clean Water, a joint powers authority that recycles and treats wastewater from 220,000 residents and businesses in southern San Mateo County.
The newest loans, totaling $143 million, will help finance their RESCU Program — 11 projects which constitute full replacement and rehabilitation of SVCW’s conveyance system including the gravity-fed pipeline among other improvements to its treatment plant.
“This is a tremendous project for our residents,” said Silicon Valley Clean Water commission chair Alicia Aguirre.
Aguirre said this project will ensure that residents have clean water that is recycled and will not have to overpay in fees.
“That’s why loans like this are so important, because now we have a state-of-the-art infrastructure (to save costs),” Aguirre said.
“What’s most exciting for me is the jobs that it brings with and assistance to the economy … especially during COVID,” said Teresa Herrera, manager at Silicon Valley Clean Water. “That and the sustainability and innovative technologies that we use.”
The improvements to the treatment facility, which was originally built in 1980, will create more than 2,300 jobs and are expected to be completed by 2023.
The remaining loan of $25 million is allocated to the Oro Loma Sanitary District in Alameda County to help finance upgrades to the sewer collection system.
There are 273 miles of clay pipes, originally built in the 1940s and ’50s, that have been decaying and will be reconstructed with the WIFIA loans.
“So, we’re really excited,” said Oro Loma board president Rita Duncan. “But the other great thing is we serve one of the under privileged communities, so it was really wonderful to be getting this money to help our community.”
Regan said this latest round of WIFIA loans is an example of what’s to come if the infrastructure bill being considered by Congress is passed by the House of Representatives.
Under the Senate’s approved version of the bill, the EPA is poised to get $50 billion to accelerate progress on “much needed water infrastructure improvements,” including lead service lines and lead pipes and improving drinking water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure all across America, Regan said.
“Importantly, we will also be able to create good paying jobs and support the foundation for future economic vitality for all of our communities,” Regan concluded.