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The Regional Water Authority (RWA) issued its first “Green Bonds” series this month to refinance an environmentally sustainable tunnel and pipeline restoration project that was completed in 2018. Green Bonds provide investors with the opportunity to invest in bonds that are targeted to support environmentally beneficial projects, including sustainable water management and drinking water infrastructure upgrades.
The nonprofit water utility developed a Green Bond Framework to issue Thirty-fourth Series C Green Bonds and use the proceeds to refinance improvements to one of the largest infrastructure projects in the company’s 170-year-history, known as the Great Hill Tunnel and Pipeline system, which transports approximately 60 percent of the RWA’s water supply.
In October 2017, the source of a previously known and managed leak in the tunnel was found to have increased in size, and a new leak on the pipeline was identified. As a result, the RWA initiated expedited procedures to safely rehabilitate the tunnel and pipeline. The project included installing an innovative bypass system from the company’s largest surface water reservoir, through an active quarry and back to RWA’s distribution system. The project, completed in April 2018, restored critical infrastructure to ensure that RWA customers did not experience any water quality or reliability issues.
The proceeds from the Green Bonds will be used to pay the interim financing notes issued to initially finance the Great Hill Tunnel & Pipeline project, including interest due, the cost of issuance and required reserve funds associated with the issuance of the bonds.
The RWA engaged Sustainalytics Inc., a provider of environmental, social and governance (ESG) research and analysis, to provide a second party opinion regarding alignment of the Thirty-fourth Series C Bonds with the Green Bond Principles.
As an environmental services company that provides high-quality drinking water to hundreds of thousands of people in South Central Connecticut, the RWA works to be a good steward of the environment. The RWA maintains the quality of its water using a multi-barrier approach that starts with protecting the natural environments from which the water is sourced. All of these source waters are carefully maintained by a team of environmental specialists, who work to promote healthy forests, fight invasive species and ensure that waters are kept safe from pollution. Promoting a healthy ecosystem around the RWA’s water sources allows for potential contaminants to be naturally filtered by trees and other plant life.