The Coachella Valley Water District received a $59 million loan from federal authorities to pay for stormwater channel improvements aimed at better managing the flow of water through the Coachella Valley during heavy rains, it was announced Friday.
“Last year’s Valentine’s Day flood showed the danger and devastation that heavy rains and flooding can cause to our communities,” said Rep. Raul Ruiz, who represents the valley in Congress. “This loan will go a long way to help manage floods, save property and protect public health.”
The loan from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will pay roughly half of the costs of two CVWD projects — the Stormwater Channel Improvement Project and North Indio Regional Flood Control Project, which together will cost $120.7 million, according to the EPA.
Project construction and operation jobs are expected to total 378, which include temporary and permanent jobs.
“These projects are vital to our ability to provide regional stormwater protection to the Coachella Valley,” said CVWD General Manager Jim Barrett. “Securing this loan means that we can undertake these important projects and reduce the financial burden to our customers by spreading it over time.”
While details regarding the loan repayment plan and interest were not immediately available, Tomas Torres, director of the EPA Pacific Southwest Water Division, said in a statement the loans were “low interest” and involved “flexible financing.”
The Stormwater Channel Improvement Project improves existing channel infrastructure starting north of Avenue 54, which begins south of Coachella, and on down to Thermal.
The North Indio Regional Flood Control Project extends 3.3 miles in Indio and is aimed at better managing and capturing stormwater along that stretch of the channel.
The locally dubbed “Valentine’s Day Storm” of 2019 saw the wettest day in the Coachella Valley in 76 years. Palm Springs received 3.69 inches of rain, and the Coachella Valley stormwater channel was quickly overcome as mud and debris turned to local roadways.
The loan was distributed via the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 2014, a federal loan and guarantee program administered by the EPA.
Including the $59 million loan to the CVWD, the EPA has now issued 15 WIFIA loans totaling more than $3.5 billion to help finance more than $8 billion for water infrastructure projects nationwide, creating more than 15,000 jobs, according to the agency.
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