The U.S. EPA announced the first loan of its kind in Utah to update Salt Lake City’s wastewater treatment plant.
The project was provided nearly $350 million to help the 55-year-old facility resist earthquakes and meet nutrient limits set by the state, according to the EPA press release.
Under the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, the $348.6 million loan to the Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities will help the existing facility comply with new state regulatory requirements and help the plant better mitigate earthquakes and flooding.
According to EPA associate deputy administrator Doug Benevento, the program has provided $6.1 billion in credit assistance to help finance $13 billion for water infrastructure while creating 27,200 jobs.
“The reconstruction of Salt Lake City’s aging water reclamation facility and EPA’s financing tools provide an important win for the entire region,” said EPA Mountains and Plains Regional Administrator Greg Sopkin. “Together, we are improving the environmental and ecosystem health of the Great Salt Lake, improving the resiliency of the community’s vital wastewater services, saving the city and its ratepayers money and creating jobs in the process.”
Salt Lake City and other wastewater treatment plants that discharge to the Great Salt Lake are under a deadline to meet new nutrient standards from the state by 2025. The new state limit on total phosphorus of 1 mg/L is required by Jan. 1, 2025.
This is mainly to reduce pollution that contributes to the formation of harmful algal blooms in Utah Lake.
“Our decision to pursue a WIFIA loan for the new water reclamation facility was a key piece of our leadership team’s deliberative financial strategy for the project and responsible spending of public dollars,” said Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities Director Laura Briefer. “We estimate WIFIA financing will save our City up to $100 million over the life of the project when compared to traditional bonding. This facility will serve many generations to come, and it is evidence of Salt Lake City’s longtime commitment to environmental stewardship and protecting public health.”