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Hundreds of Water Professionals to Rally Support for WIFIA During Fly-In to D.C.

capitolIn mid-April, hundreds of water professionals will arrive in Washington D.C. to participate in the annual American Water Works Association (AWWA) and Water Environment Federation's (WEF) joint "Water Matters! Fly-In." The annual event educates lawmakers on the issues facing drinking water and clean water utilities. This year there will be a focus on gathering support for legislation that would enact a federal Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Authority (WIFIA).

On March 20th, a U.S. Senate Committee passed the Water Resources Development Act of 2013, which would create a WIFIA. The full Senate is expected to consider the legislation in April or May. If enacted, a federal WIFIA would provide a practical, low-cost funding mechanism for large water infrastructure projects. The creation of a WIFIA would also help small and medium size communities by providing an alternative funding mechanism to the State Revolving Fund (SRF) programs for larger projects. The AWWA says WIFIA would lower the cost of local water infrastructure projects at little or no long-term cost to the federal taxpayer. The mechanism would borrow U.S. Treasury funds to provide low-interest loans, loan guarantees or other credit support to local communities. Loan repayments and guarantee fees would go back into the U.S. Treasury, plus interest. WIFIA 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.

The two-day "Water Matters! Fly-In" event begins on the morning of April 17th with group briefings and discussions about current drinking water issues, and the national issues that AWWA and WEF want to bring before Congress, in addition to WIFIA. Representatives from AWWA and WEF will also have an opportunity to connect with their respective Senators and Representatives to discuss issues pertaining specifically to their states. Brett Jochim, PE, AE2S COO and ND AWWA Water Utility Council Chair, and Mark Peterson, City of Fargo Water Treatment Facility Operations Supervisor, will represent the ND AWWA section during the event. Jochim says, "The annual Fly-In provides a great opportunity for the AWWA sections to connect directly with their congressional representatives and senators in a unified way concerning drinking water policy."

The representatives from Montana are Bill DeMeyer from the City of Billings, who is also the Montana Section of AWWA (MSAWWA) Section Chair, and the Great Falls AE2S Operations Manager, Nate Weisenburger, PE, a MSAWWA Junior Trustee. The MN AWWA Section Chair, Patrick Shea, Director of Public Services for the City of St. Cloud, will represent Minnesota along with Bob Cockriel, the Utilities Superintendent for the City of Bloomington and member of the section's Water Utility Council. Pete Moulton, from the City of St. Peter, will represent Minnesota's WEF chapter.

This is the AWWA's eleventh annual Fly-In, and the third year since the event became a joint effort with WEF. The day before the Fly-In begins, WEF will host a National Water Infrastructure Summit in D.C. The event will focus on making water infrastructure the nation's top priority, while underlining the message that reinvestment in water creates jobs, drives innovation, and safeguards public health. The event will be streamed live on the Water for Jobs website, on April 16th from 9:00-11:00 a.m. in the central time zone.

 

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please contact Heather Syverson at 701-364-9111 or Heather.Syverson@ae2s.com.
 
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