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WIFIA financing for Bull Run Treatment Projects will save ratepayers millions and help shape Portland’s future

Blog Post
logo for the WIFIA program
The Water Bureau has secured federal financing that provides significant benefits for Portland ratepayers while making important long-term improvements to the Bull Run water system.
Highlights from the March 4, 2021 Bull Run Treatment Projects WIFIA Loan Award Recognition event

The Portland Water Bureau secured a Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that significantly reduces the cost for ratepayers to build the Bull Run Treatment Projects, saving Portland at least $247 million in repayment costs. 

On March 4, 2021, the Water Bureau was joined by Governor Kate Brown, U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, EPA’s Acting Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, Portland Water Commissioner Mingus Mapps, and former Portland Water Commissioner Amanda Fritz to acknowledge the significant WIFIA benefits for everyone in our community who relies on clean, safe, reliable drinking water.

“Today, it’s absolutely critical that we provide equitable access to clean drinking water for all Oregonians,” said Governor Kate Brown. “That means we must have modern systems that are capable of treating and cleaning that water. We know all too well that if we don’t make these types of investments today, it is the communities that already face disproportionate public health impacts, created by years of systemic racism, who will be hurt the most by environmental degradation and the effects of climate change.”

“As we know, water is one of the best bets that we can make as a nation to support a safe recovery from COVID-19—pulling our communities out of economic recession, tackling the climate crisis, and really as the Governor said, centering all of this work with a focus on equity” said EPA’s Acting Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox.

The Bull Run Treatment Projects will improve public health and water quality for nearly one million people, while creating an estimated 4,700 to 7,500 direct construction jobs. The WIFIA loan is one of the financial tools the Water Bureau is using to make these long-term improvements in the resilience of our water system more affordable for our community and ratepayers. 

“We have a proud legacy of innovation when it comes to being stewards of tax and ratepayers money,” said Mayor Ted Wheeler. “That’s why I’m grateful to have a full partner in the federal government to help us create new and better tools to keep water rates affordable while also maintaining and investing in the safety and resilience of our water system.”

The WIFIA program was created by Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley and is designed to provide water infrastructure loans at very low interest rates for significant projects like the Bull Run Treatment Projects. “No matter where they live, every Oregonian deserves to have clean water to drink, and a modern, up-to-date system to treat their water,” said Senator Jeff Merkley. “That was my guiding principle when I created the WIFIA program, and it’s the guiding principle behind the Bull Run Treatment Projects.”

Watch the WIFIA Award Recognition Event

Learn about WIFIA benefits

Learn more about rate affordability and these important long-term investments