The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced that USD is eligible for $198 million in low-cost financing from the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program for the District's Enhanced Treatment and Site Upgrade (ETSU) Phase 1 Projects. USD's ETSU Phase 1 program is one of 55 projects in 20 states invited to apply for funding that will facilitate $12 billion in water infrastructure according to U.S. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.
“This is great news for the District as we move forward with ETSU’s critical projects,” said USD Board President Tom Handley. “Federal financing is essential to supplement ratepayer investments in USD’s extensive infrastructure program that will help protect the San Francisco Bay, preserve capacity for a growing Tri-City area, and manage the effects of a changing environment.”
“The WIFIA process is highly competitive, and it is an honor and testament to the outstanding work of the District’s employees and program partners to be chosen for the program’s next step of applying for low-cost loans,” said General Manager Paul Eldredge. “The District greatly appreciates the support of Senator Dianne Feinstein and Representatives Ro Khanna and Eric Swalwell during the preliminary application process. Their assistance was a vital accompaniment to the District’s initial Letter of Interest to the U.S. EPA. USD also thanks the U.S. EPA for its backing of the nation’s essential wastewater treatment projects.”
USD’s ETSU Phase 1 Projects are part of a comprehensive program to support the next 20 to 40 years of operation at its wastewater treatment plant in Union City. The Phase 1 projects include addressing aging infrastructure, improving water quality in the San Francisco Bay through nutrient removal upgrades, and hardening of infrastructure to further resiliency efforts to manage extreme wet weather. “These critical improvements will reinforce USD’s proud tradition of excellent service and stewardship of public funds for many decades to come,” said Eldredge.
Established by the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 2014, the WIFIA program is a federal loan and guarantee program administered by the U.S. EPA. WIFIA’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.
USD recently received two prestigious awards from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) for accomplishments in the 2019 calendar year. The District won NACWA’s “Peak Performance” Platinum Award for achieving 11 years of 100% compliance with its regulatory permit requirements. These permit conditions are in place to protect the water quality of San Francisco Bay. USD has been recognized by NACWA for 27 consecutive years since this award program began in 1993.
Additionally, the District received NACWA’s Excellence in Management Silver Recognition honor. NACWA’s congratulatory letter noted USD’s “commitment to sustainable and successful programs that exemplify the attributes of an effectively managed utility.” The District’s strategic planning, financial management, infrastructure performance, employee development, and operational optimization efforts were some of the many considerations leading to USD’s receipt of the Silver Recognition. NACWA represents public wastewater and stormwater agencies of all sizes nationwide.
“These honors reflect the commitment and hard work of the entire District staff,” said General Manager Paul Eldredge. “USD is proud that our dedicated employees work collaboratively every day to provide the highest level of service to customers and protection of the environment. They are the reason for our success.”