EPA: San Diego eligible for water purification plant loan

SAN DIEGO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Wednesday that the city of San Diego is eligible to pursue a low-interest, $492 million federal loan to help fund the initial phase of its project to turn recycled water into drinking water.

The funding would ease ratepayers’ financial burden for building a $1.2 billion purification plant in the Miramar area — a project set to break ground next year. The plat would provide 30 million gallons of water a day, which would be mixed in reservoirs with water from traditional sources.

The EPA loan would be about half of what the city could obtain for a bond on the open market. City officials and the EPA still have to negotiate the loan details before the funding is approved.

“This is a tremendous boost to our efforts to create an independent, drought-proof water supply for San Diego,” said Mayor Kevin Faulconer. “By inviting us to apply for this loan funding, the EPA is showing its strong support for our Pure Water recycling program and providing us an opportunity to secure low-cost financing for one of the biggest infrastructure projects in city history.”

City officials hope to start delivering the recycled water to customers by 2021. By 2035, Pure Water is expected to account for one-third of the city’s supply.

The EPA is making about $2.3 billion in funds available nationwide through its loan assistance program. Loans would be repaid over 35 years through revenues from the water and wastewater systems.