Los Angeles is receiving a $224-million Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loan that will go toward construction of the city Bureau of Sanitation’s planned wastewater purification and replenishment plant, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Oct. 26. 

The Donald C. Tillman Advanced Water Purification Facility will treat and purify up to 19 million gallons of wastewater daily, to refill the San Fernando Valley Groundwater Basin and aquifers. The project entails construction of the purification facility, maintenance facility upgrades, flow equalization tank and a sewer to link the wastewater to the purification facility. It's expected to complete in 2027. 

Drought resilience in the face of climate change is the intended purpose of the project, whose total cost is $458 million. Like much of the Western U.S., Los Angeles County is currently experiencing a historic drought. 98.41% of the county is in extreme drought, the effects of which include very low reservoir levels and restricted hydropower, according to the National Integrated Drought Information System.

Just 15% of Los Angeles water supply is locally sourced, said Mayor Eric Garcetti in the virtual announcement. “We're going to see that number increase fourfold,” he added, with the completed plant allowing for 70% of the supply to be local.

“As we reconcile our 20th century infrastructure with the realities of a 21st century climate, this project is an investment in the resiliency and innovation that has and will continue to fuel Los Angeles' future,” said E. Joaquin Esquivel, chair of the State Water Resources Control Board, in a statement.

He said the board plans to invest more than $1 billion during the next fiscal year on 27 water recycling projects “breaking down silos between wastewater and drinking water and ensuring that we're maximizing every drop here in the West.”

This is the 60th WIFIA loan from the EPA program that was authorized by Congress in 2014. The loans fund up to 49% of a water and wastewater infrastructure project's total cost. To date, WIFIA loans totaling $11.7 billion to assist $25 billion worth of projects have been approved.