USD Issues Bonds to Finance Infrastructure Projects

USD recently sold bonds to fund $110 million in capital improvement projects that will renew and replace aging infrastructure, enhance wastewater treatment processes, and increase resiliency of District facilities to extreme weather events and climate change. The funds will be applied to USD’s extensive Capital Improvement Program (CIP), which is estimated to be over $1.1 billion dollars over the next 20 years. Financing CIP projects spreads these large costs over a period of time to help stabilize rates for customers.

The interest rate on USD’s 30-year bonds is 2.02%. “Prior to the bond sale, the District received new credit ratings,” said General Manager Paul Eldredge. “This resulted in an upgrade from S&P to a AAA rating, which led to savings from the anticipated interest rate of 2.44%. Over the 30-year life of the bonds, the lower interest rate will save the District over $17.3 million dollars.

“USD’s ability to take advantage of historically low interest rates and a favorable bond market is a reflection of the District’s focus on thorough capital and fiscal planning to meet both near-term and long-term challenges,” said Eldredge. “USD’s professional and efficient operations, finances, administration, and governance resulted in favorable credit ratings and investor interest that help the District continue to provide quality service while planning for the future in a way that has the most benefit to ratepayers.”

District projects funded by the bonds will include a portion of Phase 1A of USD's Enhanced Treatment and Site Upgrade Program (ETSU), a component of the largest capital improvement program in District history. Earlier this year, the District was selected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to apply for a Water Infrastructure Financa and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan with a very low interest rate to fund 49% of the ETSU program. The District's bonds will also fund additional improvements at USD's Union City treatment plant and its pump stations in Newark and Irvington. 


U.S. EPA Selects USD for Low-Cost Financing

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced that USD is eligible for $198 million in low-cost financing from the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program for the District's Enhanced Treatment and Site Upgrade (ETSU) Phase 1 Projects. USD's ETSU Phase 1 program is one of 55 projects in 20 states invited to apply for funding that will facilitate $12 billion in water infrastructure according to U.S. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.

“This is great news for the District as we move forward with ETSU’s critical projects,” said USD Board President Tom Handley. “Federal financing is essential to supplement ratepayer investments in USD’s extensive infrastructure program that will help protect the San Francisco Bay, preserve capacity for a growing Tri-City area, and manage the effects of a changing environment.”

“The WIFIA process is highly competitive, and it is an honor and testament to the outstanding work of the District’s employees and program partners to be chosen for the program’s next step of applying for low-cost loans,” said General Manager Paul Eldredge. “The District greatly appreciates the support of Senator Dianne Feinstein and Representatives Ro Khanna and Eric Swalwell during the preliminary application process. Their assistance was a vital accompaniment to the District’s initial Letter of Interest to the U.S. EPA. USD also thanks the U.S. EPA for its backing of the nation’s essential wastewater treatment projects.”

USD’s ETSU Phase 1 Projects are part of a comprehensive program to support the next 20 to 40 years of operation at its wastewater treatment plant in Union City. The Phase 1 projects include addressing aging infrastructure, improving water quality in the San Francisco Bay through nutrient removal upgrades, and hardening of infrastructure to further resiliency efforts to manage extreme wet weather. “These critical improvements will reinforce USD’s proud tradition of excellent service and stewardship of public funds for many decades to come,” said Eldredge.

Established by the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 2014, the WIFIA program is a federal loan and guarantee program administered by the U.S. EPA. WIFIA’s aim is to accelerate investment in the nation’s water infrastructure by providing long-term, low-cost supplemental credit assistance for regionally and nationally significant projects. The WIFIA program has an active pipeline of pending applications for projects that will result in billions of dollars in water infrastructure investment and thousands of jobs.


USD Wins Two National Awards

USD recently received two prestigious awards from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) for accomplishments in the 2019 calendar year. The District won NACWA’s “Peak Performance” Platinum Award for achieving 11 years of 100% compliance with its regulatory permit requirements. These permit conditions are in place to protect the water quality of San Francisco Bay. USD has been recognized by NACWA for 27 consecutive years since this award program began in 1993.

Additionally, the District received NACWA’s Excellence in Management Silver Recognition honor. NACWA’s congratulatory letter noted USD’s “commitment to sustainable and successful programs that exemplify the attributes of an effectively managed utility.” The District’s strategic planning, financial management, infrastructure performance, employee development, and operational optimization efforts were some of the many considerations leading to USD’s receipt of the Silver Recognition. NACWA represents public wastewater and stormwater agencies of all sizes nationwide.

“These honors reflect the commitment and hard work of the entire District staff,” said General Manager Paul Eldredge. “USD is proud that our dedicated employees work collaboratively every day to provide the highest level of service to customers and protection of the environment. They are the reason for our success.”


USD Honors Tri-City Industries

The District is honoring 27 Tri-City Industries with Certificates of Merit for achieving 100% compliance with water quality requirements in the 2019 calendar year. USD annually awards Certificates of Merit to those permitted industries within its service area that maintain 100% compliance with all wastewater discharge requirements. In addition, these industries consistently implement pollution prevention measures, maintain a cooperative working relationship with the District, and demonstrate continuing awareness and understanding of environmental issues and requirements. Several of the recipients have received this honor for consecutive years of continued compliance.

Traditionally, the District held an in-person awards ceremony for these honorees. However, due to the current Alameda County Shelter-in-Place Order and other measures taken in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, staff will instead mail the framed certificates to award winners, along with a letter of acknowledgment. As in previous years, the District will also run advertisements in the Tri-City Voice and Argus newspapers congratulating the awardees. USD commends them for their excellent performance during 2019.

This year's awardees are: *Air Liquide Advanced Materials* Amphenol NovaSensor * Applied Thin-Film Products * Bay Area Circuits, Inc. * Boehringer Ingelheim Fremont, Inc. * Clean Sciences, Inc. * Electrochem Solutions, Inc. * Enablence USA Components, Inc. * Finisar Corporation * Global Plating, Inc. * Intematix Corporation * Kaiser Permanente Hospital – Fremont * Lam Research Corporation (CA03/CA3E) * Lam Research Corporation (CA30) * Materion Brush, Inc. * Matheson Tri-Gas, Inc. * Microwave Technology, Inc. * NeoPhotonics Corporation * Quality Transport, Inc./Truck-Rail Handling, Inc. * Quantum Clean #2 * Sanmina Corporation * Seagate Technology, LLC * SLD Laser Diode, Inc. * Tri-Cities Recycling and Disposal Facility * Washington Hospital Healthcare System * Western Digital Technologies B1 * Western Digital Technologies B2.

USD is responsible for permitting, inspecting, and monitoring many industries that discharge to its sewer system to ensure compliance with Federal, State, and Local environmental regulations. This is done not only to protect the treatment plant from toxic discharges, but also to protect the water quality of San Francisco Bay.


Virtual Public Hearing 7 p.m. May 11, 2020

The District mailed notices of a Public Hearing on proposed rate changes to all owners of property in its service area in March 2020. USD proposed rate increases over the next five years to fund vital capital projects that will take over a decade to complete as well as to meet anticipated state and federal regulations.

The Public Hearing was on the agenda of USD's May 11, 2020 Board meeting, which was virtual due to current county and state restrictions on public gatherings.  All members of the community were invited to listen, comment, and ask questions. To read the May 11, 2020 Board meeting packet, please see the Board Meetings web page. To learn more about the outcome of the Public Hearing, please see our Sewer Service Charges web page.


USD Proposes New Rates

Union Sanitary District is proposing rate increases over the next five years to fund vital capital projects that will take over a decade to complete as well as to meet anticipated state and federal regulations. The District recently mailed notices of a May 11, 2020 public hearing on the proposed rate changes to all property owners in Fremont, Newark, and Union City.

“The District is very sensitive to everything transpiring in the world right now, and understands that a wastewater service increase may add further worry,” said General Manager Paul Eldredge. “After carefully considering the impacts of postponing the increase, it became very clear that any delay would result in higher costs to customers and could severely impact the District’s operations in the years ahead.

"It is currently estimated that each year the District’s critical capital projects are delayed costs approximately an additional $12.5 million per year. USD has infrastructure needs now and for the next 10 years that were overwhelming factors in this decision. The District must move forward with required capital improvement projects to address current issues that make wastewater more costly to treat as well as aging infrastructure that, though well-maintained, has reached the end of its useful life.”

USD’s 10-year Capital Improvement Program is $644,350,000. “It’s important to consider that construction of these facilities takes several years, and there are substantial savings by proceeding now versus delaying these important projects,” noted Eldredge. “These infrastructure investments are necessary in order to maintain safe, reliable operations that comply with regulatory requirements and protect public health and the environment.”

If adopted, the yearly increases range from about $33 to $41 annually for single-family residences, and from about $32 to $37 annually for multiple family residences. The current annual rate for single-family residences, the majority of USD’s customers, is $421.37. If approved, in FY 2021 the rate would increase to $454.57 starting in July of 2020 and would appear on property tax bills, which are usually mailed in October.

The proposed rates are based on the results of a comprehensive study of the cost of providing sewer service from July 2020 through June 2025 which can be found at the District’s website at They reflect the study’s calculations on minimum rate increases for each year that would allow the District to meet its capital, operations, and reserve expense requirements.

“USD’s current rates are at the lower end of 35 Bay Area wastewater service providers surveyed, yet we provide some of the most extensive services,” said Eldredge. “The District strives to provide reliable, essential service as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. Even with the proposed increases, USD’s rates would remain well below many of those of other agencies.”

USD’s mission includes protecting public health and the environment through its stewardship of wastewater infrastructure in Fremont, Newark, and Union City by collecting, treating and returning to the environment on average 24 million gallons of wastewater daily. The District maintains a large number of facilities and equipment, including more than 839 miles of sewer lines, seven pump stations, and the buildings and equipment at its 33-acre wastewater treatment plant in Union City. “The cost of operating and maintaining these facilities continues to rise every year, often outpacing inflation,” said Eldredge. “The District will continue to seek cost saving and other measures to keep increases as low as possible.”

The notice of a public hearing, which was prepared and sent before the current “Shelter in Place” orders were imposed, notes a community meeting that is scheduled for April 21, 2020 at the Fremont Main Library. Due to current county and state restrictions on public gatherings, this meeting will be replaced with an online or teleconference option. Updates regarding how to connect to the virtual meeting will be provided on the District’s website, Facebook page, and on Twitter @usdtweets. Ratepayers can also contact the District at (510) 477-7500 or via email at

Property owners may protest the proposed rates via mail, email, or fax until 5 p.m. on May 11, 2020, or in-person before the close of the public comment portion of the public hearing, which is scheduled to be held at 7 p.m. on May 11, 2020 in the District Boardroom, 5072 Benson Road, Union City. If the current shelter in place orders are extended past the current May 3, 2020 end date, the May 11 public hearing will likely be a teleconference. The District will provide updates to the community, such as how to participate in meetings electronically, as it moves forward.


usd logo bottom

Copyright 2016-2018 Union Sanitary District | Search | Site Map | Designed by Formula Design