FPUD applies for federal grants for treatment plant upgrades

The Fallbrook Public Utility District board voted 5-0 Jan. 28 to authorize a pair of grant applications to help fund the rehabilitation of FPUD’s wastewater treatment plant.

“We thought the application fit some components that we have to do as part of our water reclamation plant upgrade,” said FPUD engineering and planning manager Jack Bebee.

Both applications are for WaterSMART water and energy efficiency grants administered by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

“It’s fairly stiff competition, but we felt like it was worth a shot,” Bebee said.

FPUD applied for grants in two separate categories: one for up to $300,000 and one for up to $1,500,000.

“It’s much more likely that we’ll get the lower grant than the higher grant,” Bebee said. “We’re trying for both.”

FPUD cannot receive more than one grant; if the larger grant is awarded FPUD will decline the smaller grant.

“We put in two to sort of hedge our bets because we’d rather get some grant money rather than none,” Bebee said.

The design of the rehabilitation project has been completed, and Bebee expects that a request for bids to construct the improvements will be issued in February or March (FPUD staff has the authority to request bids; following the end of the bid period the FPUD board must approve the staff’s bidder recommendation). “We’re moving forward on the project,” Bebee said.

The construction is expected to take approximately 2 1/2 years. One of the upgrades will allow for storage of recycled water.

“With our current recycled system we don’t have any storage,” Bebee said.

Since demands for recycled water are seasonal, the lack of storage forces FPUD to include potable water in the distribution during peak periods. “With the project we’re putting in some storage to get rid of that,” Bebee said.

Because the ability to store recycled water will eliminate that use of potable water, the project is eligible for a water savings grant.

FPUD has obtained a loan from the State Water Resources Control Board for the upgrades. The State Revolving Fund loan of $22,154,148 would be paid back over a 20-year period at an interest rate of approximately 2.5 percent. The first payment would be due one year after construction is completed, and there is no prepayment penalty if an SRF loan is paid off early.

The Bureau of Reclamation grant does not require repayment and would reduce the total SRF debt obligation.

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