Pierce County receives $13M state loan for wastewater treatment plant expansion

Pierce County’s Public Works and Utilities department applied for and received a low-interest state loan for the Chambers Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant expansion project.

The $13 million loan will supplement the county’s bond sales and will be paid back to the state Public Works Trust Fund with one-percent interest over 20 years. Pierce County will receive the loan money in 2014 after state legislative approval.

“This loan will save the county and our sewer rate payers nearly $7 million just in interest payments,” said Brian Ziegler, Pierce County’s public works director.

Sewer Revenue Bonds were sold in August to fund the majority of the treatment plant expansion. These bonds will be paid back at a rate of 3.589 percent, a 40-year low in interest rates.

The Public Works Trust Fund Board is one of the state’s primary infrastructure financing authorities. The Board uses a four-part risk assessment to evaluate the eligibility of applicants, the importance of the project, the managerial capacity of the local government, and the financial strength of the jurisdiction or its underlying infrastructure system. Pierce County’s Wastewater Treatment Plant expansion was one of 277 projects funded in the 2014 funding cycle and received the maximum amount allowed through the program. A total 335 applications were received by the Public Works Trust Fund Board.

Pierce County’s Public Works and Utilities department will continue to apply for Public Works Trust Fund loans for the 2015 and 2016 funding cycles to augment future bond sales and help finance the $350 million project. The county is expanding and upgrading the plant to make room for future growth in the region, replace aging infrastructure and stay ahead of changing environmental regulations.

Chambers Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant. (PHOTO COURTESY PIERCE COUNTY)