The Environmental Protection Agency has approved a $196.4-million loan to the Inland Empire Utilities Agency in Chino, Calif., to help finance a $450.7-million upgrade to the area’s wastewater treatment system.

The closing of the loan, announced on May 28, is part of the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program, which offers financing at attractive rates for water projects around the country.

The California project involves expanding a water recycling plant’s liquids-treatment capacity to 22.5 million gallons per day, from 15 million mgd today. It also includes a new solids-handling facility. Both facilities are to support expected growth in the region.

[View EPA project fact sheet here.]

The expanded water recycling facility will replace an existing plant, which will be within a floodplain after the height of the Prado Dam spillway in Riverside County is raised.

Besides the WIFIA loan, the California agency will draw on a $100-million loan from the California State Water Board’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund, plus grants and other borrowed funds, EPA said.

Using the WIFIA loan will save the water agency about $153 million, compared with the cost of conventional bond financing, according to EPA 

Congress authorized WIFIA in June 2014 but, partly because of low appropriations levels for the program, it wasn’t until April 2018 that EPA approved its first loan.  Since then, however the agency has cleared 21 WIFIA loans, totaling $4.4 billion.