AWWA applauds WIFIA funding
AWWA extends its congratulations to all utility members and volunteer leaders who have worked tireless over the past several years for the passage and funding of the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA).
President Obama on in December signed legislation that will allow the WIFIA program to begin making loans to tackle the nation’s trillion-dollar water infrastructure challenge. EPA in January announced the availability of $1 billion in WIFIA funding.
The legislation, H.R. 2028, was a continuing resolution to keep the federal government in operation until April 28. It also included $100 million in state revolving loan (SRF) funds to assist communities in which a water emergency had been declared, such as in Flint, Mich.
The money for WIFIA is available now since funding was authorized in the original legislation creating WIFIA in 2014. In previous fiscal years, Congress had only appropriated money for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to set up the program.
The SRF money, plus other funds to help with Flint’s lead situation, must be authorized before it can be released. Congress passed authorizing legislation – within the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) of 2016 – late last week and is awaiting President Obama’s signature. He has already signed the continuing resolution authorizing the WIFIA funding.
Of the $20 million appropriated for WIFIA, $3 million is to be used for administrative purposes, leaving $17 million to seed loans. WIFIA leverages federal dollars so that for every dollar Congress appropriates, $50 to $60 is expected to be loaned out. That means up to $1.02 billion could be available for loans.
Utilities interested in investigating a WIFIA loan can visit EPA’s WIFIA website. Those interested are first asked to send in a letter of interest. Then discussions with EPA staff will guide a decision as to whether to proceed to a full application process. AWWA will continue to provide additional information and guidance to help utilities make the most of this innovative new tool for water utility finance.
Questions? Please contact AWWA’s legislative director, Tommy Holmes.