EPA Announces $18 Million WIFIA Loan to Helix Water District for Drinking Water Resilience in San Diego County

Nationally, 91 WIFIA loans are financing more than $33 billion in water infrastructure improvements, creating 101,000 jobs

WASHINGTON – Today, at an event in Southern California, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced an $18 million loan from the Funding and Innovation Act for Water Infrastructure (WIFIA) at Helix Water District in San Diego County, California to support the Drinking Water Reliability Project. Through the WIFIA loan from the EPA, Helix Water District will increase the region’s drinking water resilience by expanding opportunities for water reuse and reducing reliance on imported water.

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

Helix Water District will upgrade existing pump stations, transportation distribution infrastructure and piping; and installation of an aeration system in Jennings Lake to meet the state’s surface water needs. By completing this project, Helix Water District will replace 30% of its water needs that are currently being met by overloaded regional sources with an alternative source of purified water from the East County Advanced Water Purification Project, who received a separate WIFIA loan. This project also supports California’s Title 22 “Pure Water” goal to increase recycled water use by at least 2 million acre-feet per year by 2030.

“In California, we purify recycled water and seawater to replace the water that nature provided to us,” said Kathleen Coates Hedberg, Helix Water District Board Chair. “The only way we can afford to keep rates as low as possible and grow these new projects is through collaboration – multiple agencies working together and securing capital from multiple funding sources. We are working in partnership with neighboring agencies to develop a new drought-tolerant water supply and are thrilled that the EPA selected our project for funding.

Thanks to the flexibility and competitive rates of the WIFIA program, 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 expected to create nearly 400 jobs.

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

Background

Established by the Water Infrastructure Funding and Innovation Act of 2014, the WIFIA program is a federal loan and guarantee program administered by the EPA. The objective of the WIFIA program is to accelerate investments in the country’s water infrastructure by providing additional long-term, low-cost credit assistance for projects of regional and national importance.

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 the closing of this WIFIA loan, the EPA announced 91 WIFIA loans that provide more than $15 billion in credit assistance to help finance more than $33 billion for water infrastructure while creating approximately 101,000 jobs and saving taxpayers over $5 billion.

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

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