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WIFIA Legislation Signed, Water Infrastructure Loans Can Move Forward

Water organizations are praising the passage of legislation that will allow the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) to start making loans for water infrastructure projects. In mid-December, President Barack Obama signed H.R. 2028, a continuing budget resolution to keep the federal government operating until April 28, 2017.

The American Water Works Association (AWWA), which helped craft WIFIA, had high praise for those who pushed the bill forward. "AWWA is thankful to all those members of Congress and water sector partners who championed WIFIA over the past several years," said Tracy Mehan, AWWA Executive Director of Government Affairs. "Funding WIFIA is a tremendous step forward as we confront the nation’s water infrastructure challenge."

WIFIA funding is available now because it was authorized in the original legislation that created the program in 2014. 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, up to $50 to $60 is expected to be loaned out. That means up to $1.02 billion could be available for loans.

The WIFIA legislation created in 2014 authorized $35 million in appropriations for 2017. AWWA says it will continue to lobby Congress to fully fund WIFIA to maximize its potential. "Because WIFIA is a loan program, it strikes just the right balance between federal assistance and local responsibility," said David LaFrance, AWWA CEO.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) is proposing to establish fees related to the provision of federal credit assistance under WIFIA. According to the USEPA proposal on the National Register, WIFIA authorizes USEPA to charge fees to recover all or a portion of the Agency's cost of providing credit assistance and the costs of retaining expert firms, including financial, engineering, and legal advisory services, in the field of municipal and project finance to assist in the underwriting and servicing of Federal credit instruments. The agency is seeking comment on all aspects of this proposal. Click here to view the USEPA's entire proposal and submit a comment on the Federal Register. The deadline for comments is February 17, 2017.

 


 

 

 

 

 
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