The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced the Soquel Creek Water District in California will receive an $88 million Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan for an innovative water reuse project that will produce safe drinking water by purifying recycled water. The project will also help prevent further seawater intrusion by replenishing the critically stressed aquifer that serves as Soquel’s drinking water source.
“Monterey Bay plays a vital role in the region’s marine health and biodiversity,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator John Busterud. “EPA’s financial support to the Soquel Creek Water District will help protect the Bay while replenishing local groundwater and ensuring that the community is more resilient against drought.”
The Pure Water Soquel project will use advanced technology to purify recycled water, producing 1.3 million gallons per day of safe, high-quality water and providing a reliable, sustainable and drought-resistant water supply that meets current and future demands. The project will also prevent further intrusion of saltwater into the aquifer and support the preservation of a sustainable groundwater basin. When complete, the project will lessen the need for potential future diversions from sensitive waterways like the San Lorenzo River. Additionally, by reusing water, the project will reduce discharges of treated wastewater to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
“We’re grateful to the EPA for this WIFIA loan, which will help the District in our roles as both our community’s water supplier and environmental steward,” said Dr. Bruce Daniels, President of the Soquel Creek Water District Board of Directors. “Assuring the sustainability of our groundwater supply is paramount. With this loan, we’re able to accomplish that, while reducing the burden on our rate payers and providing a drought-proof water supply for today and future generations.”
EPA’s WIFIA loan will provide financing for $88 million of the Pure Water Soquel project cost while remaining costs will be funded by a combination of system funds, a Proposition 1 Groundwater grant, and a Seawater Intrusion Control loan from the state of California. The WIFIA loan will save the Soquel Creek Water District an estimated $66.7 million compared to typical market financing while project construction and operation are expected to create an estimated 581 jobs.