Merkley Announces $122 Million in Savings for Tualatin Valley Water Users

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley today announced that new water infrastructure loan terms have been reached between the Tualatin Valley Water District (TVWD) and the federal government, which will save ratepayers—including businesses and residents—$122 million over the next 25 years.

The new agreement will allow the TVWD to utilize new, lower federal interest rates to repay a $387.7 million federal loan that is helping to finance the laying of over 30 miles of pipes and the building of a water treatment plant and two storage reservoirs that will serve 400,000 Oregonians and create 4,168 new jobs.

“High quality water infrastructure creates good jobs and plays a vital role in our day to day lives—a role that is all the more important when we’re faced with public health crises and natural disasters,” said Merkley. “This program was created by a strong partnership between Oregon’s leaders and the federal government, and I’m pleased that it is continuing to bring critically needed infrastructure projects and cost savings to our state. And now the refinancing of this loan will save Oregonians millions and millions more.”

TVWD President Bernice Bagnall said, “Every TVWD customer will benefit directly from the re-execution of the WIFIA loan. The initial WIFIA loan savings to our customers, relative to full market rates, were estimated to be $138 million. We thought this was a great deal but now, because of Senator Merkley’s help, we will save an additional $122 million in borrowing costs over the 35-year repayment period. These ratepayer savings are a direct result of Senator Merkley’s leadership in the Senate to expand the capacity of local governments to build critical local infrastructure like the Willamette Water Supply System.”

“The Willamette Water Supply is a regional partnership, with local, state and federal agency involvement. This project is an economic foundation for the region that is creating jobs today and in preparation for the jobs of tomorrow. The region will benefit by providing a resilient and reliable water supply for the future health, economic growth and fire protection as a result of this project and WIFIA has played an integral role in making this happen,” said Tom Hickmann, CEO for TVWD.

The loan, which is being administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), was made possible by the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA)—a program Merkley introduced in 2012 after hearing feedback from communities across Oregon that affordable financing for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure projects wasn’t easily accessible. Since WIFIA was authorized as a pilot project in 2014 and then as a full-fledged federal infrastructure program in 2016, Merkley has used his position on the Senate Appropriations Committee to fight for robust funding for the program.

Merkley worked with the EPA to allow local communities with WIFIA loans to refinance and take advantage of lower interest rates.