Walter David Ross, the Environmental Protection Agency’s assistant administrator for water, speaks at the loan-signing ceremony. Image from livestream

Oceanside received a $69 million federal loan Thursday that will pay for almost half of the city’s ambitious drinking water recycling project.

The Pure Water Oceanside project will provide 32% of the city’s water by 2022. It will be the first operating advanced water purification facility in San Diego County, beating San Diego’s considerably larger recycling project.

Walter David Ross, the Environmental Projection Agency‘s assistant administrator for water, traveled to Oceanside Thursday to sign the loan agreement for what he called a “critically important” project in a region that imports most of its drinking water.

“When this one came across my desk, I stopped. It’s just a really cool project,” Ross said. “It demonstrates the unique drivers and the multiple benefits associated with water reuse.”

The federal loan will finance nearly half of the $158 million project, with remaining funds coming from a combination of grants, other loans, and operating revenue. The federal loan has a low 1.2% interest rate, which will save the city an estimated $24 million.

“Today is a historic moment for the city,” said Oceanside Deputy Mayor Jack Feller as he signed the loan agreement. Feller noted that the project will create 622 jobs.

The plant will use microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet light to purify wastewater from the San Luis Rey Water Reclamation Facility, dramatically reducing the city’s reliance on water imported from the Colorado River and Sacramento Bay Delta.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.