"Green" Bonds

In November 2014, the City sold $200 million in Water Wastewater Utility revenue bonds to pay for a series of projects that are designed to improve the health of the Spokane River and to protect the aquifer that provides Spokane residents with their drinking water.

The bonds were designated as "green" bonds because they will be used to pay for "green" projects that provide environmental benefits. The work will improve water quality, protect water resources, and save energy, among other things.

The money raised through the bond sale, in large part, will help the City implement its Integrated Clean Water Plan. The plan includes work to manage overflows from combined sanitary and stormwater sewers, address untreated stormwater going to the river, and to add an additional level of wastewater treatment at the City's Riverside Park Water Reclamation Facility.

The City already is putting this money to good use. These funds are being used to:

  • Construct an additional level of treatment at the City's Riverside Park Water Reclamation Facility. This work will add membrane filtration that will vastly improve the quality of effluent released from the facility.
  • Build underground concrete storage tanks to help manage overflows from combined sanitary and stormwater sewers in a number of areas around the City.
  • Develop and construct stormwater management facilities in legacy industrial areas to keep pollution out of the Spokane River.

The City is tracking the use of the bond proceeds and posts annual updates on this page. The first year of bond expenses was smaller but expenditures in 2016 and beyond will increase substantially. A final list of the projects funded will be posted here when all net proceeds of the bond have been spent.

The green bond concept is relatively new and is designed to attract additional investors who want to put their money to work on achieving environmental results. Washington, D.C., the state of Massachusetts, the state of New York, and the state of California are among the handful of government units that have sold green bonds recently.

After providing information on the financial health of the City’s utilities and information on the plans to use the proceeds, the City received strong ratings on these bonds from the two major bond-rating agencies. Standard & Poor's (S&P) gave the bonds a "AA" rating, while Moody's provided an equivalent rating of "AA2."

Description of the purpose of the bonds from the Offering Statement:

Net proceeds of the Bonds will be applied toward Clean Water and Drinking Water projects which will provide environmental benefits, including the following:

  1. Improve the health of the Spokane River and other surface water bodies by reducing flows of stormwater and wastewater into these water bodies and improve the quality of the effluent discharged from the City’s wastewater treatment plant.
  2. Protect the aquifer, the sole source of drinking water for more than a half million people in the Spokane region, by protecting wellhead influence zones, ensuring the integrity of underground wastewater infrastructure, and employing green infrastructure techniques to treat stormwater runoff.
  3. Preserve aquifer water resources by reducing system leakage and effectively managing the water distribution system.
  4. Promote efficient energy use by maintaining and updating distribution and treatment systems.
  5. Enable resilience in anticipation of climate change and population growth by ensuring redundancies in water and wastewater systems and treating more stormwater on site to free up piping and treatment capacity to accommodate change.

Use of Bond Proceeds

More Information