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Water Professionals Lobby Congress for Infrastructure Funding During Fly-In

capitolMore than 130 water utility professionals from 47 states converged in Washington D.C. for the annual Water Matters! Fly-In event in April. The water utility leaders participated in about 300 meetings with elected representatives over a two-day period to lobby in support of funding for critical loan programs to repair and renew U.S. water and wastewater systems.

The American Water Works Association (AWWA) says Fly-In attendees discussed WIFIA with their representatives, including:

  • Support for fully authorized funding -- $35 million -- for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA).
  • Allow WIFIA to more fully realize its potential by removing the cap on WIFIA support of a project.
  • Support at least $1.3 billion in funding for the drinking water and $1.3 billion for the wastewater state revolving loan fund programs.
  • Remove the annual volume caps for private activity bonds for water infrastructure projects.

Congress passed WIFIA in 2014 to provide communities with low-interest loans for large water and wastewater projects. However, Congress has not yet appropriated money to make loans. “Now is the time for WIFIA to begin making those loans it was designed to make,” said Tracy Mehan, AWWA Executive Director of Government Affairs. 

Last year, Congress dropped the ban included in the original WIFIA legislation on the use of tax-exempt bonds in combination with WIFIA loans. This year, AWWA delegates encouraged Congress – in the context of reauthorizing the Water Resources and Reform Development Act (WRRDA) -- to allow WIFIA to reach its full potential by removing a barrier that allows it to fund only 49 percent of projects. WIFIA was designed to complement State Revolving Loan funds, making loans to projects that cost $20 million or more. The water utility leaders also asked Congress to fund both the water and wastewater SRF programs this year at a minimum of $1.3 billion each.

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