Photo: from right to left: Mark Gracyk, Helix Board of Directors; Hector Aguirre, EPA; De Ana Verbeke, Helix Board Vice President; Bruno Pigott, EPA; Joel Scalzitti, Helix Board of Directors; Kathleen Coates Hedberg, Helix Board President; Dan McMillan, Helix Board of Directors.

Nationally, 91 WIFIA loans issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are financing over $33 billion in water infrastructure upgrades, creating 101,000 jobs

From EPA Press Release Issued September 13, 2022
WASHINGTON
 – Today, at an event in Southern California, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced an $18 million Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan to Helix Water District in San Diego County, California to support the Drinking Water Reliability Project. With EPA’s WIFIA loan, Helix Water District will increase the region’s drinking water resiliency by expanding water reuse opportunities and reducing reliance on imported water.

“Helix Water District’s project represents the future of water in the West,” said EPA Deputy Assistant Administrator for Water Bruno Pigott. “EPA is proud to help finance these infrastructure upgrades that will increase water reuse and help secure reliable safe drinking water for generations to come.”

Helix Water District will modernize existing pump stations, conveyance infrastructure, and distribution pipelines as well as install an aeration system in Lake Jennings to meet state surface water requirements. By completing this project, Helix Water District will replace 30% of its water needs that are currently met by strained regional sources with an alternative source of purified water conveyed from the East County Advanced Water Purification project, which received a separate WIFIA loan. This project also supports California’s Title 22 “Pure Water” objective to increase use of recycled water by at least 2 million-acre-feet per year by 2030.

“In California, we are purifying recycled water and ocean water to replace the water that nature used to provide,” said Helix Water District Board President Kathleen Coates Hedberg. “The only way we can afford to keep rates as low as we can and develop these new projects is through collaboration – multiple agencies working together and securing capital from multiple funding sources. We are partnering with neighboring agencies to develop a new, drought-proof water supply and we are so pleased that the EPA selected our project for funding.”

As a result of the WIFIA program’s flexibility and competitive rates, Helix Water District will save approximately $3.2 million by financing with a WIFIA loan. Construction is expected to be completed in 2027 and construction and operation are estimated to create nearly 400 jobs.

EPA Deputy Asst. Administrator for Water Bruno Pigott speaking at Lake Jennings on September 13, 2022.
Asst. Director for Tribal and State Assistance, Office of Water, Pacific Southwest Division Office
Helix Board President Kathleen Coates Hedberg speaking at Lake Jennings on September 13, 2022.
Sunset at Lake Jennings on September 13, 2022.

Photos: Clockwise from top left: EPA Deputy Assistant Administrator for Water Bruno Pigott; EPA Assistant Director for Tribal and State Assistance for Water Hector Aguirre; Lake Jennings at sunset; Helix Board President Kathleen Coates Hedberg.

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. 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.

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. With this WIFIA loan closing, EPA has announced 91 WIFIA loans that are providing over $15 billion in credit assistance to help finance over $33 billion for water infrastructure while creating approximately 101,000 jobs and saving ratepayers over $5 billion.

Earlier this spring, EPA announced the availability of $5.5 billion under the 2022 WIFIA Notice of Funding Availability and an additional $1 billion under the State Infrastructure Financing Authority WIFIA (SWIFIA) program. Together, this newly available funding will support more than $13 billion in water infrastructure projects while creating more than 40,000 jobs. Visit the NOFA webpage for more information.

For more information about the WIFIA program, visit: https://www.epa.gov/wifia.

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