SEATTLE (KTVZ) – In a virtual event Thursday with Oregon Governor Kate Brown, Senator Jeff Merkley (OR), Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and other dignitaries, the United States Protection Agency the environment announced its biggest Loan from WIFIA (Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act) to date – a loan of $ 727 million to the Portland Water Bureau.
The loan will help finance the Bull Run treatment program to improve the quality and reliability of drinking water for nearly one million people by better controlling contaminants and lead while strengthening the climate resilience of the system, said the agency in a press release, which continues below:
“EPA is delighted to partner with Portland to announce one of the very first WIFIA loans entered into by the Biden-Harris administration and the largest WIFIA loan ever issued by the agency,” Deputy Administrator said Acting EPA for Water Radhika Fox. “This project and EPA’s WIFIA loan illustrate how strategic partnerships can improve public health and help tackle the impacts of climate change, while creating jobs and saving taxpayers money.
Through WIFIA, EPA will play a key role in efforts to build back better by improving and modernizing the national water and wastewater infrastructure in communities across the country. With this loan close, the EPA announced 45 WIFIA loans totaling more than $ 9 billion in credit assistance to help fund more than $ 19 billion for water infrastructure projects while creating nearly 47,000 jobs.
Portland city Bull Run Treatment Program will construct a new filtration water treatment plant to remove the microorganism Cryptosporidium and other potential contaminants and water pipes to connect the filtration plant to the existing pipes.
In addition, it will implement improved corrosion control treatment to further tune Portland’s water chemistry and reduce potential levels of lead at the tap.
The program is designed to comply with two federal regulations, the Long-Term Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule 2 and the Lead-Copper Rule. The project will also improve the resilience of the system to fires, landslides, large storms and earthquakes.
Together, these projects will improve public health and water quality and increase the resilience and reliability of the drinking water system for nearly one million people.
“In Oregon, we are working to focus equity as we implement a 100-year vision for strategic investments in water projects and policies, to provide a sustainable water future that meets impacts of climate change, ”said Brown. “We need to be forward thinking in our investments, knowing that our systems must be prepared to withstand more severe weather events in the decades to come.”
“No matter where they live, all Oregonians deserve to have clean water to drink and a modern, up-to-date system to treat their water,” Merkley said. “This was my guiding principle when I created the WIFIA program, and it is the guiding principle of the Bull Run treatment project. I remain as committed today to saving taxpayer dollars and bringing reliable access to clean drinking water to all Oregonians as I was eight years ago when this program became law, and I have looking forward to seeing the Bull Run treatment project come to fruition.
“The City of Portland, and all those who depend on clean, safe and reliable drinking water, are grateful to Senator Merkley for his leadership in helping Portland and other communities protect access to safe drinking water, as well. and Senator Ron Wyden, Representatives Earl Blumenauer and Suzanne Bonamici, Congressman Kurt Schrader and the Biden-Harris administration for their support of the City’s efforts to invest in keeping our drinking water clean and safe, ” Wheeler said.
“These projects echo the wisdom of our city’s founders who established Bull Run as our water source over a century ago,” said City Commissioner Mingus Mapps. “We are preserving their legacy through long-term investments to protect public health and economic growth for the next century.”
“Using WIFIA funding for most of the construction costs of Bull Run’s treatment projects saves our taxpayers money,” said Gabriel Solmer, director of the Portland Water Bureau. “Not only does WIFIA’s low interest rates guarantee savings, but its long-term repayment schedule does not begin until projects are built and taxpayers enjoy the benefits of the projects by sharing the costs.”
EPA’s WIFIA loan will fund almost half of the project costs. The remaining funds for the project will come from a combination of tax obligations and funds from the Portland Water Bureau’s system. The WIFIA loan will save the Portland Water Bureau approximately $ 247.5 million compared to traditional market financing. Construction and operation of the project is expected to create at least 4,700 jobs.
Background on WIFIA
Established by the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act 2014, the WIFIA program is a federal loan and guarantee program administered by the EPA. WIFIA’s goal is to accelerate investments in the country’s water infrastructure by providing additional long-term, low-cost assistance for projects of regional and national significance. The WIFIA program has an active pipeline of pending applications for projects that will translate into billions of dollars in water infrastructure investments and thousands of jobs. Learn more about the WIFIA program at: https://www.epa.gov/wifia.