The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced an $18 million Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan to Helix Water District in San Diego County to support the Drinking Water Reliability Project. With EPA’s WIFIA loan, Helix Water District will increase the region’s drinking water resiliency by expanding water reuse opportunities and reducing reliance on imported water.
“Helix Water District’s project represents the future of water in the West,” said EPA Deputy Assistant Administrator for Water Bruno Pigott. “EPA is proud to help finance these infrastructure upgrades that will increase water reuse and help secure reliable safe drinking water for generations to come.”
Helix Water District will modernize existing pump stations, conveyance infrastructure, and distribution pipelines as well as install an aeration system in Lake Jennings to meet state surface water requirements. By completing this project, Helix Water District will replace 30% of its water needs that are currently met by strained regional sources with an alternative source of purified water conveyed from the East County Advanced Water Purification project, which received a separate WIFIA loan. This project also supports California’s Title 22 “Pure Water” objective to increase use of recycled water by at least 2 million-acre-feet per year by 2030.
“In California, we are purifying recycled water and ocean water to replace the water that nature used to provide,” said Helix Water District Board President Kathleen Coates Hedberg. “The only way we can afford to keep rates as low as we can and develop these new projects is through collaboration – multiple agencies working together and securing capital from multiple funding sources. We are partnering with neighboring agencies to develop a new, drought-proof water supply and we are so pleased that the EPA selected our project for funding.”
Helix Water District was formed by residents more than 100 years ago to bring water to San Diego’s east county communities. Today, they treat water for much of East County and distribute water to the 277,000 people in their service area.
Helix delivers water to the cities of La Mesa, Lemon Grove and El Cajon, the Spring Valley and Lakeside communities, and other areas of the county.