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Water Deal of the Year

For the deal, signed in 2016, which has made the biggest contribution to the advancement of private sector participation in the international water sector.

Vista Ridge Pipeline Financing, United States

What is it?

A $937 million finance package, including $853 million in non-recourse senior debt, to support the construction of a 142-mile water pipeline. The package is backed by a 30-year take-or-pay contract, and involves sourcing and conveying up to 50,000 acre-feet (61.7 million m³) of water per year from a wellfield to serve the City of San Antonio, Texas.

Who is involved?

The water supply project is being carried out by the Vista Ridge consortium, which is led by Garney Construction. The $853 million in debt funding was provided by a group of nine international banks led by Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp (SMBC). The client is the San Antonio Water System (SAWS).

What makes it special?

As one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States, the need for San Antonio to secure long-term drought-proof water supplies has never been more pressing. When the future of the Vista Ridge project was thrown into doubt after the original equity partner encountered financial difficulties, Garney Construction stepped up to assume control, resolving a protracted period of uncertainty and reassuring lenders that the project could move forward on a sound footing.

Faced with a unique risk profile in which transportation permitting requirements, right-of-way easements, and long-term water availability rest firmly on the shoulders of the development consortium, SMBC deftly assembled a five-year debt package at a competitive credit margin of 1.75% over Libor, reducing the long-term bill for SAWS customers by a stunning $529 million.


Vista Ridge was the largest privately financed water project to close in North America last year. By shrewdly securing water leases and right-of-way permissions early in the process, the consortium has provided a replicable blueprint for similar projects elsewhere.


Barka 4 IWP Financing, Oman

What is it?

A €276 million financial package to support the construction of the largest SWRO plant in Oman, the 281,000m³/d Barka 4 facility.

Who is involved?

The plant is being developed by the Barka Desalination Company, a consortium comprising Itochu (36%), Suez (27%), Engie (27%) and W.J. Towell (10%). Funding was provided on an 85:15 debt-to-equity basis. The debt is split among BTMU, SMBC, Crédit Agricole and KfW. Water will be supplied to the Oman Power and Water Procurement Company under a 20-year build-own-operate contract.

What makes it special?

The exceptional level of development expertise enshrined within the project team resulted in financial close being reached just two months after the signing of a water purchase agreement. Tying in with a razor-sharp delivery schedule for the plant, the project as a whole is a beacon for successful infrastructure delivery in the Middle East.

The involvement of equity investors from Europe, Asia and the Middle East – alongside debt providers from multiple continents – makes this a truly international deal, and demonstrates the appetite of international investors for well-designed and well-planned greenfield assets.


The low cost of water – just OMR0.290 ($0.75) per cubic metre – sets a new benchmark for desalination in the Sultanate, and offers proof that privately financed infrastructure can push the boundaries of financial sustainability in the water sector.

The Global Water Awards 2018 is proudly sponsored by:

Evoqua logo, links to Evoqua homepage

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