The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has agreed to provide $135m to Orange County Water District (OCWD), California, to support its Groundwater Replenishment System final expansion.
EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest Mike Stoker said: “This advanced water recycling and groundwater replenishment project will provide Orange County residents and businesses with an additional local drinking water supply. Not only will this project protect local water resources, it will make Orange County more resilient to future droughts.”
The loan has been provided under the Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA). This loan will be used by OCWD to purify treated wastewater from the Orange County Sanitation District to produce an additional 30 million gallons per day of drinking water. This water will be stored in the Orange County Groundwater Basin.
It is the additional drought-proof drinking water supply and is expected to reduce the region’s need to import water and will benefit the environment through reduced discharges into the ocean as well as increase the replenishment of local groundwater sources.
As per OCWD estimates, the project will cost about $282m. EPA’s WIFA loan will help to finance nearly half that amount.
Construction of the project which is expected to begin next year, will create nearly 700 jobs. It is scheduled for completion in 2023.
Orange County Water District board president Denis Bilodeau said: “WIFIA borrowing enhances the Groundwater Replenishment System’s viability. The WIFIA loan program creates another tool in the proverbial toolbox to finance critical water infrastructure projects like ours.
“The cost of borrowing is less than the private market would have been, which helps make the cost of the final expansion feasible to ratepayers. OCWD is trying to reduce reliance on imported water from the Colorado River and become self-sufficient, but OCWD won’t make water at any cost.”