EPA gives $614M loan to San Diego to develop water recycling program

SAN DIEGO — San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer accepted a nine- figure loan from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Tuesday to help the city finance phase one of the Pure Water San Diego water recycling program.

Faulconer joined EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler to formally claim the $614 million Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loan. The city estimates that the first phase of the program will cost roughly $1.4 billion, including funding from the loan.

San Diego will provide one-third of the city’s drinking water through the Pure Water program by 2035, according to city officials. The city plans to break ground on project’s first phase in 2019.

“This federal funding is validation that our Pure Water Program is cutting-edge technology and a worthy investment for San Diego’s future water independence,” Faulconer said. “This is going to be one of the most significant infrastructure projects in San Diego history and will deliver clean, reliable water to our residents for decades to come.”

As part of the first phase, the city will upgrade existing water facilities and construct new ones, like the North City Pure Water Facility near Eastgate Mall. Phases two and three will result in new water pipelines and facilities in central San Diego and South Bay.

Congress enacted the WIFIA loan program in 2014. The EPA has loaned more than $1.5 billion in WIFIA assistance for five projects over the last two years.

“This WIFIA loan will help San Diego construct a state-of-the-art water purification facility that will produce 30 million gallons of clean drinking water each day,” Wheeler said.

City officials estimate that the Pure Water project will add nearly 500 jobs in the next five years. The city expects the project to be completed and functional by 2023.