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Walnut Creek, Calif. — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded a $699 million low-interest loan to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) to help finance its Southeast Treatment Plant Biosolids Digester Facilities Project. Under the EPA’s Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA), a program offering as much as $5.5 billion in loans, SFPUC received the largest amount issued to date to fund approximately half of the $1.2 billion biosolids and resource recovery project.

Led by environmental engineering and construction firm Brown and Caldwell, the project involves upgrading critical components of San Francisco’s aging sewer system infrastructure to support the city’s sustainability goals. With the loan, SFPUC will replace its outdated biosolids digester facilities with modern, efficient technology to transform wastewater solids into high-quality biosolids and biogas. The updated infrastructure is designed to maximize energy recovery, reduce emissions, minimize potable water use through recycling, and produce reusable Class A biosolids. Additionally, the new digesters will be located farther away from existing residences, feature advanced odor control, and will be more resilient to earthquakes.

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“I am thrilled the EPA has chosen to partner with SFPUC by investing in their infrastructure and the local economy,” said Jay Patil, Brown and Caldwell senior vice president and director of sales, strategy, and marketing. “It speaks volumes about SFPUC’s visionary leadership and culture of environmental and community inclusivity that they received the largest WIFIA loan thus far.”

As the prime firm, Brown and Caldwell leads a team comprising Black & Veatch, CH2M (Jacobs), SRT, STRUCTUS, AEW, and Geotechnical Consultants for engineering; Saylor Consulting Group for estimating; MWA Architects, MEI Architects, Fluidity Design Consultants, and Endrestudio for architecture; and Katz & Assoc., Alfred Williams Consultancy, and BAYCAT for outreach.

Image: MWA Architects

Brown and Caldwell assisted the city in its letter of interest for the loan and provided technical documents in support of the application. The SFPUC project was the largest in a pool of 43 letters of interest submitted, and one of 12 projects selected by the EPA to apply for and negotiate a loan.

“SFPUC did an extraordinary job in securing this alternative funding, and our team is proud to have been part of the process,” said Tracy Stigers, Brown and Caldwell vice president and project manager. “Throughout the project, SFPUC and the consultant team have striven for cost savings and efficiencies with the ratepayer in mind. It is a great feeling to be part of an effort that will save ratepayers more than $200 million in financing.”

Located in Bayview-Hunters Point, the Southeast Treatment Plant is the city’s largest wastewater facility. When complete, the modern resource recovery facility will be an aesthetically pleasing community asset that helps protect the health of the community and the environment. The project also brings added employment and education opportunities through more than 3,000 local jobs and career training opportunities.

Project construction is expected to begin in early 2019 with facilities operational by 2025.

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