U.S. House Approves WRRDA Without WIFIA

capitol-2The U.S. House approved the Water Resources Reform Development Act (WRRDA) in late October. However, the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) that was included in the U.S. Senate’s version of the bill was removed from the House version. Now the American Water Works Association (AWWA) is teaming up with 10 other organizations to lobby for WIFIA to be included in the final version of WRRDA.

The AWWA, U.S. Conference of Mayors, National League of Cities, Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, American Beverage Association, Water Environment Federation (WEF), American Council of Engineering Companies, Water and Sewer Distributors of America, Water Design-Build Council, National Ground Water Association and WaterReuse Association sent letters to key members of Congress and the Senate in mid-November in support of WIFIA. The letters were delivered to the leadership of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, the Subcommittee on Water Resources and the Environment, and Senate conferees who will deliberate over water resources legislation with their House counterparts, once those House members have been named.

WIFIA, as proposed in the Senate version of the bill, would leverage $50 million of annual appropriations over five years for low-interest loans on major water and wastewater infrastructure projects. It would also help community water systems of all sizes by providing a supplemental funding mechanism to the State Revolving Fund (SRF) programs for the completion of projects with costs greater than $20 million. This would reduce the financial demand from large projects and allow the existing SRF programs to fund an increased number of the smaller projects throughout the country. In order to provide increased flexibility to predominantly rural states, SRF programs experiencing an increased demand for loan funds would also have the ability to access WIFIA financing by aggregating the costs of multiple smaller projects to reach a combined loan amount of $20 million or more. WIFIA would in turn borrow U.S. Treasury funds to provide low-interest loans, loan guarantees, or other credit support to local communities.

The pilot WIFIA program is modeled after the existing Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program that has been providing similar financial assistance to the nation’s transportation infrastructure since 1998. To access more information about WIFIA, click here to read the white paper prepared jointly by the AWWA, WEF, and the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies.