The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced a $131 million Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan to the Orange County Water District (OCWD) to help remove per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from local groundwater.
“At EPA, tackling PFAS pollution and safeguarding public health is a top priority. This investment in water infrastructure will address PFAS in drinking water while revitalizing water supplies that are essential in a drought-prone area,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “This innovative project will be good for the local economy and result in a safer water supply for Orange County and improved water quality for residents.”
Last year, dozens of wells within the Orange County Groundwater Basin were removed from service after the state lowered the Response Level advisories of two PFAS chemicals, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS). Consequently, OCWD had to rely on imported water to meet the needs of their customers.
Over the next two years, OCWD’s PFAS Facilities Treatment Project will design, permit and construct thirty-five PFAS treatment systems for 59 impacted wells.
“OCWD is committed to proactively and swiftly addressing PFAS that have been detected in local groundwater supplies,” said OCWD President Steve Sheldon. “Our staff have done an outstanding job responding to this critical water quality issue by expediting the design and construction of the PFAS treatment facilities.”
The $131 million WIFIA loan is expected to finance nearly half of all up-front project costs, which are currently estimated at $267 million.
Construction is expected to be completed by spring 2023.