FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif. – On Friday, November 8, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Orange County Water District (OCWD) participated in a groundbreaking ceremony for the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) Final Expansion in Orange County, California. This project is funded in part by a $135 million Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan.

“Not only will OCWD’s Ground Water Replenishment System provide Orange County residents and businesses with an additional local drinking water supply, it will also ensure the community is more resilient against periods of drought,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Mike Stoker. “Good water quality and wastewater management is vital to our health, communities, and economy. Through the WIFIA loan program, EPA is helping renew our nation’s aging water infrastructure.”

“OCWD greatly appreciates the WIFIA funding that will support public water infrastructure in Orange County,” said OCWD President Vicente Sarmiento. “The GWRS Final Expansion will produce enough water for 1 million people, while also recycling 100% of the reclaimable wastewater from the Sanitation District. It’s truly a win-win and we will continue to implement projects and programs that bring increased water reliability to the region.”

Today, the OCWD hosted an event in Fountain Valley, California, to break ground on the GWRS Final Expansion project. Speakers included officials from OCWD, Orange County Sanitation District, State Water Resources Control Board and EPA, as well as elected officials. In August 2018, EPA announced the closing of this WIFIA loan.

Upon completion, the expanded system will purify treated wastewater from the Orange County Sanitation District to produce an additional 30 million gallons per day of drinking water, which will be stored in the Orange County Groundwater Basin. This additional drought-proof drinking water supply reduces the region’s need to import water, benefits the environment through reduced discharges into the ocean, and increases replenishment of the local groundwater source.

The Orange County Water District estimates the project will cost $310 million. Because the WIFIA program offers loans with low interest rates, the Orange County Water District is expected to save up to $16 million compared to municipal bonds. Project construction is expected to create 700 jobs and is scheduled to begin in 2019 and be completed in 2023. 

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 has issued 14 WIFIA loans totaling over $3.5 billion in credit assistance to help finance over $8 billion for water infrastructure projects and create over 15,000 jobs. Through WIFIA, EPA is playing a leading role in President Trump’s efforts to upgrade our nation’s infrastructure, protect public health, and create jobs.

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

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