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Menlo Park Faces $90 Million in H2O Infrastructure Upgrades for Efficiency, Preparedness

As municipalities across the country increasingly focus on climate change preparedness, water infrastructure has come under the microscope. Menlo Park, California, for example, will need to invest $90.3 million in order to rehabilitate its municipal water system infrastructure between now and 2040, according to The Almanac. The investment will include funds to upgrade existing pipes, boost reliability and resilience of the system, and boost the system’s capacity, among other improvements.

A master plan, developed by West Yost Associates and approved by the City Council last month, will function as a roadmap for addressing existing needs and planning for future projects that would promote water conservation and efficiency.

Predictive analyses shows that by 2040, the city will come close to reaching its maximum allotment of Hetch Hetchy water it can claim from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. With a significant drought, Menlo Park could overdraw its allocation. A system for recycled water could help with water conservation, however, and the West Bay Sanitary District is currently building such a system in Sharon Heights. The city is also looking into how to buy recycled water from the cities of Palo Alto and Redwood City, according to the article.


Funding Questions

Menlo Park has not yet developed a funding formula, but infrastructure improvements are expected to be met by an increase to the city’s utility users’ tax. The city is just one of many that are pondering how to pay for the water infrastructure improvements that must be made.

In April, EPA announced that increased EPA loans are available for water infrastructure projects thanks to new legislation that boosted funding for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA). The program could provide as much as $5.5 billion in loans for new investments to repair the nation’s water infrastructure, the EPA said.

States, municipalities and private-public partnerships can submit proposed projects which the EPA will evaluate. The agency will then select projects that it intends to fund and invite them to continue to the application process.

The WIFIA program received $63 million in funding in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018, which was signed into law by President Donald Trump on March 23, 2018. This more than doubles the program’s funding from 2017.

Established by the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 2014, the WIFIA program is a federal loan and guarantee program from the EPA that aims to accelerate investment in the nation’s water infrastructure by providing long-term, low-cost supplemental loans for regionally and nationally significant projects.

Letters of interest will be accepted through July 6, 2018.

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