Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced two Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loans-one to Tualatin Valley Water District (TVWD) and the other to the City of Hillsboro (COH)-marking the first time that WIFIA has provided financing for two individual borrowers partnering on a joint project.
"EPA's nearly $640M WIFIA loans will help ensure that the Tualatin Valley Water District and the City of Hillsboro in Oregon have access to a clean and reliable supply of water that is built to the highest seismic safety standards. These WIFIA loans will also generate significant cost savings for residents and create over 4,000 well-paying jobs," said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. "Through WIFIA, EPA is playing a leading role in President Trump's efforts to upgrade our nation's infrastructure, create jobs, and safeguard public health and the environment. EPA has now issued 11 WIFIA loans under President Trump, totaling nearly $3B in credit assistance, to help finance over $6.5B for water infrastructure projects and create over 10,000 jobs."
The WIFIA loans will provide approximately $388M for TVWD and $251M for COH, respectively, to fund investments in the Willamette Water Supply System (WWSS). When completed, this system will provide the Tualatin Valley Water District and City of Hillsboro additional seismically resilient water supply capacity. The system will include intake facilities, over 30 miles of pipes, a water treatment plant and two storage reservoirs to serve 400,000 residents and businesses in Washington County. The system is being built to the highest seismic safety standard to support resiliency and recovery from potential earthquake activity. The investments in the system will provide reliable, quality drinking water for generations to come and will support the local economy both during construction and future operation.
"The WIFIA loan is a positive development for customers and the region," said CEO of Tualatin Valley Water District Tom Hickmann. "The benefits significantly reduce the rate impacts to our customers while simultaneously helping provide an additional water supply that results in protecting public health with a reliable drinking water source and fueling the economy with jobs now and in the future."
"The WWSS is a critical regional water project that will save Washington County residents money and help ensure that residents have access to clean, safe, and reliable water for generations to come-while also creating thousands of jobs in the process," said U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley. "I created the WIFIA program to invest in water infrastructure projects and job creation after hearing from Oregonians that water infrastructure is one of the top issues facing their communities. This program continues to be a great model for delivering results through local and federal collaboration without the need for additional tax dollars."
"In Northwest Oregon, it is a question of when, not if, a Cascadia earthquake will affect our region's infrastructure," said U.S. Representative Suzanne Bonamici. "Our water infrastructure must be resilient and sustainable to protect our communities from toxic contaminants and natural disasters. Investing in the Willamette Water Supply System will give our community access to safe and reliable drinking water now and in the future and support good-paying jobs in Washington County."
The Willamette Water Supply System will cost $1.3B. EPA's WIFIA loans will finance nearly half of that figure-up to $638M. The WIFIA loans will save TVWD an estimated $138.4M and COH an estimated $125.2M compared to typical bond financing. Project construction and operation are expected to create over 4,000 jobs.
Background On WIFIA
Established by the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 2014, the WIFIA program is a federal loan and guarantee program administered by EPA. WIFIA's aim is to accelerate investment in the nation's water infrastructure by providing long-term and low-cost supplemental credit assistance for regionally and nationally significant projects. EPA's WIFIA program plays an important part in President Trump's infrastructure plan, which calls for expanding project eligibility. The 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.
For more information about the WIFIA program, visit https://www.epa.gov/wifia.