You are now in Home Headline Media Coverage San Diego County category.

Strong Water Authority Credit Saves $67.4 Million for Ratepayers

Strong credit ratings for the San Diego County Water Authority will save water ratepayers across the region $67.4 million on bond sales executed Wednesday in New York — $27 million more than staff forecasted in May. All three major rating agencies – S&P, Moody’s and Fitch – recently affirmed the Water Authority’s positive ratings and stable outlook, creating the opportunity for ratepayers to benefit from lower financing costs for critical water infrastructure.

Water Utility Hero of the Week: Carrie Selby, City of Escondido

Editor’s Note: This feature highlights water utility employees in the San Diego region working during the corona virus pandemic to ensure a safe, reliable and plentiful water supply. The water industry is among the sectors that are classified as essential. Carrie Selby, City of Escondido Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator, is the Water Utility Hero of the Week.

San Diego Regional Water Projects Awarded $15M from State

The California Department of Water Resources has awarded more than $15 million in grant funds to advance several regional water projects in San Diego County, ranging from water recycling and reuse to water conservation.

The San Diego County Water Authority submitted the funding request on behalf of the San Diego Integrated Regional Water Management Program, or IRWM. The San Diego IRWM Program began in 2005 as an effort by water agencies, wastewater agencies, stormwater and flood managers, watershed groups, business leaders, disadvantaged communities, tribes, agriculture, and nonprofit stakeholders to improve water resources planning in the region.

Bond Sales-Credit Ratings-Desalination Plant

Strong Water Authority Credit Saves $67.4 Million for Ratepayers

Strong credit ratings for the San Diego County Water Authority will save water ratepayers across the region $67.4 million on bond sales executed Wednesday in New York — $27 million more than staff forecasted in May. All three major rating agencies – S&P, Moody’s and Fitch – recently affirmed the Water Authority’s positive ratings and stable outlook, creating the opportunity for ratepayers to benefit from lower financing costs for critical water infrastructure.

The savings resulted from the Water Authority’s refinancing of $283.5 million in Series 2020A Bonds (Green Bonds) and $117.7 million in Series 2021A (Green Bonds) senior-lien water revenue refunding bonds. Technical factors in the market provided favorable conditions – including more demand for bonds than supply – that the Water Authority team moved quickly to capture.

Most significant savings in bond refundings in the past decade

The Water Authority bonds were priced July 8 – a week ahead of schedule – and the strong credit ratings, strong bond policies, and swift action by the Board of Directors in June, helped lower the interest rates compared to what the Water Authority would have had to pay with downgraded credit. Since 2010, the Water Authority has saved a total of $235 million through 10 bond refundings, including the latest transactions.

“Thanks to strategic, courageous action by the Water Authority Board of Directors in June to set rates for 2021, the agency has secured the most significant savings from bond refundings in the past decade,” said Water Authority Board Chair Jim Madaffer. “The Water Authority maintains a strong financial position even in these difficult times, and that ultimately benefits everyone who calls San Diego County home.”

Credit ratings: Strong financial leadership, prudent strategies

In affirming their credit ratings over the past few weeks, the three rating services cited the Water Authority’s strong financial leadership, including prudent strategies to manage issues related to COVID-19, its success diversifying water supply sources, its commitment to infrastructure maintenance, and its financial reserves for managing contingencies, among other factors.

‘Investments in water supply diversification, conservative financial practices’

  • S&P affirmed its highest rating – AAA– June 25. “The authority has been successful in their efforts to increase control over their supply and diversify the source of their supply. Management has also demonstrated an ability to navigate volatile hydrological cycles through adopting rate increases as needed and building prudent financial reserves and storage to mitigate variability.”
  • Fitch Ratings affirmed its AA+ rating July 2. The Water Authority’s “significant investments in supply diversification, have allowed the Authority to continue to meet water demands in its service area.” Fitch also said “the SDCWA benefits from very strong purchaser credit quality.”
  • Moody’s Investor Service affirmed its Aa2 rating June 29. Moody’s praised the Water Authority “for increasingly diverse sources for water supply purchases; and conservative financial practices with adopted reserve and debt policies.” Moody’s also said that “liquidity, including a rate stabilization fund, remains satisfactory and serves to insulate the San Diego County Water Authority from risks associated with variable water supplies, including California’s current drought conditions, as well as unanticipated events such as the coronavirus crisis. The stable outlook reflects our expectation that the Authority’s favorable operating performance will continue.”

“In the midst of a global pandemic and a challenging economy, the Water Authority continues proactively managing its finances and lowering the cost of debt,” said Lisa Marie Harris, finance director for the Water Authority. “We have strong debt coverage, healthy reserves and an experienced management team to sustain our fiscal health.”

For more information about the Water Authority’s finances go to: www.sdcwa.org/finance-investor-relations.

Series 2020A – Taxable Refunding

Issue Size: $283,470,000

Bond maturities: 2024-2034

Bond yields: .59% – 1.95%

Refunding savings: $38.7 million

Savings as % of refunded bond par: 15.3% (board min savings 2-5%)

Top Investors: Progressive, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, and State Farm

Series 2021A –Tax-Exempt Refunding (Forward Delivery)

Issue Size: $117,690,000

Bond maturities: 2022 – 2031

Bond yields: .45% – 1.13%

Refunding savings: $28.7 million

Savings as % of refunded bond par: 19.7% (Board Min savings 2-5%)

Top Investors: Vanguard, Alliance Bernstein, Seix Investors, and MIZUHO Bank

Rainbow MWD Begins Process for Replacing Headquarters

The Rainbow Municipal Water District is hoping to fund the replacement of its current headquarters building through the sale of land, and a request for qualifications to provide development study services resulted in that study services contract was awarded to MasterCraft Homes Group, LLC.

Rainbow’s board voted 5-0 June 23 to award the contract and in the absence of board authorization for additional compensation, the contract will be for $122,324.

Money to Repair Central Valley Canal in House Bill. A large Funding Gap Remains

South San Joaquin Valley farmers have a reason to celebrate this week: Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives appropriated $200 million to fix the Friant-Kern Canal.

The bill also includes funding to repair the Delta-Mendota Canal and for two Northern California reservoirs.

State Awards $15 Million for San Diego Regional Water Projects

The California Department of Water Resources has awarded more than $15 million in grant funds to advance several regional water projects in San Diego County, ranging from water recycling and reuse to water conservation.

The San Diego County Water Authority submitted the funding request on behalf of the San Diego Integrated Regional Water Management Program, or IRWM.

California’s Pollution Regulators Go Toe-To-Toe With Trump. Watchdog Says They Come Up Short

A California environmental advocacy group urged the state’s air pollution regulator and agriculture department to do more for minority communities in an annual report card it published last week.

That report card, compiled by the California Environmental Justice Alliance, issued environmental justice grades to eight agencies, with a statewide C average.

Local Groups Pause Tijuana Sewage Lawsuits, But Solutions Are Still Far Off

Californians are pushing pause on federal lawsuits against the International Boundary Water Commission, the agency that’s supposed to deal with sewage-filled stormwater rolling into the U.S. from the Tijuana cliffs under a treaty between the two countries.

In Parched Southwest, Warm Spring Renews Threat of ‘Megadrought’

Here at 12,000 feet on the Continental Divide, only vestiges of the winter snowpack remain, scattered white patches that have yet to melt and feed the upper Colorado River, 50 miles away.

That’s normal for mid-June in the Rockies. What’s unusual this year is the speed at which the snow went. And with it went hopes for a drought-free year in the Southwest.