The U.S. House and Senate approved spending legislation for the 2015 fiscal year that includes the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) pilot program, and President Barack Obama signed the omnibus appropriations package into law in mid-December. The spending bill will fund the federal government for the remainder of FY15.
While the WIFIA portion does not include funding for project loans, it does provide the full $2.2 million Congress authorized earlier this year for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) to set up the WIFIA program. “Next we will focus on obtaining appropriations so the WIFIA program can issue the actual loans. This will be a key topic at our annual Fly-In this spring,” says AWWA Legislative Director Tommy Holmes in a news release. WIFIA is intended to supplement the Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving funds (SRF) by delivering low-cost financing for large water and wastewater projects that may not otherwise benefit from traditional SRF financing.
The omnibus bill also includes:
- $907 million for drinking water SRF programs.
- $1.45 billion for wastewater SRF programs.
- $101.9 million for the Public Water System Supervision (PWSS) grant program.
- A permanent rescinding of $40 million in unobligated balances from the State and Tribal Assistance Grants account (including SRFs and the PWSS programs).
- $12.7 million for a competitive grant program for non-profits to provide technical assistance for improved water quality or safe drinking water to rural and urban communities or private well owners.
- $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
- Withholding of significant funding from the Office of the Administrator and the Office of Congressional Affairs until certain overdue reports are sent to Congress, including one on Drinking Water Treatment Compliance Flexibility.
For more information about what the omnibus appropriations package includes, click here.