Federal environmental officials on Thursday awarded a loan to the city of San Francisco — in the hundreds of millions of dollars — to improve the city’s stormwater infrastructure.
The Environmental Protection Agency gave the city $369 million in loans under the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, which could expand to $791 million in the future.
Passed in 2014, the federal loan program administered by the EPA provides facilities with long-term, low-interest credit assistance so they can complete water infrastructure improvement projects.
City public utilities officials said the money will help mitigate flooding in low-lying areas and replace aging equipment prone to damage amid a changing climate.
It also saves the city a reported $110 million in renovation costs, and funds over a dozen wastewater resiliency projects around the city, including a new treatment project at Treasure Island.
“These low-interest loans fund critical projects while keeping our costs down, so we can pass that savings on to our customers,” said Dennis Herrera, general manager of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. “That means we can make needed upgrades to aging infrastructure while keeping our rates competitive.”
Herrera joined Mayor London Breed and EPA officials in signing the official loan agreement at SFPUC’s North Point Wet-Weather Facility — the city’s oldest treatment facility, which will receive pipe replacements thanks to the federal aid.
Breed said this winter’s storms were a clear reminder that the city needs to prepare for extreme weather of a magnitude that San Francisco hasn’t seen before.
“We must take bold action to better prepare, to mitigate and to respond to these new challenges,” Breed said.
“These projects are not just about pipes and pumps, they are about the air we breathe, the water we drink, the environment we leave to future generations,” she added, raising a point that water conservation will need to go hand-in-hand with the infrastructure resiliency plans.
The announcement marks the third loan SFPUC has received from the EPA, which makes it one of the largest partners in the program.
“We can’t wait to see the wonderful results, benefits to the community that will prove from this WIFIA investment, whether it’s the storm water management, climate resilience, or just water reliability overall,” said Radhika Fox, the EPA’s assistant administrator of water.
Source: NBC Bay Area
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