The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced on June 19 $513-million loan to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to finance water pretreatment and improvements to the city’s Southeast Treatment Plant, which treats 80% of city wastewater.

The loan is part of the federal Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program.

“Not only will this project provide environmental and public health benefits, it will create more than 3,000 jobs in the Bay Area,” EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator John Busterud said in a press release. “Rebuilding our aging water infrastructure at low cost to communities is a top priority for EPA.”

The treatment plant improvement project, which totals about $1 billion, will replace two outdated headworks treatment facilities with a centralized preliminary treatment facility that is set to improve screening and grit removal, maintain regulatory compliance, protect public health and safety, meet current seismic standard and provide advanced odor control and maximize water reuse. 

“This low-interest rate loan will save us millions of dollars long term while providing jobs and contracting opportunities to local residents and businesses when they are needed most,” said Harlan L. Kelly Jr., the San Francisco agency's general manager.

Project construction and operation are expected to create 3,355 jobs. The California State Water Board Clean Water State Revolving Fund will contribute roughly $244 million from revenue bonds.