EPA, Bureau of Reclamation advance cooperation on water supply, reuse funding

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) last week announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that advances federal collaboration on funding for water supply and water reuse projects nationwide.

Consistent with the Administration’s commitment to infrastructure resiliency, the agencies are collaborating on approaches to effectively and efficiently help ensure that all Americans have access to sustainable supplies of clean water by leveraging the core expertise of each agency.

“With 80 percent of U.S. states anticipating some freshwater shortages in the next decade, diversifying our country’s water portfolio is a nationwide priority,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water David Ross. “Our new MOU with Reclamation will accelerate federal cooperation and support for water supply reliability and water reuse projects to help address this challenge.”

“We owe it to the next generation to make the investments necessary to ensure reliable water supplies,” said Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman. “This partnership will help water managers make those investments; the new MOU gives Reclamation and EPA the structure to collaborate together on important water infrastructure projects.”

By signing this MOU, the agencies are committing to work together to implement existing water infrastructure financing programs, specifically EPA’s Water Infrastructure Financing and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program and Reclamation’s Title XVI and Desalination programs.

Reclamation will look for opportunities to leverage funding provided by WIFIA with existing Reclamation funding programs to better support the country’s water reuse and recycling projects. EPA and Reclamation also commit to identifying other opportunities to leverage the resources of both agencies to help make each Federal dollar go further.

The MOU is effective immediately and will remain in effect for five years. The MOU meets the statutory requirements section 4301 of America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018. To read the MOU and for more information about EPA’s WIFIA program, visit www.epa.gov/wifia.

Learn more about the Bureau of Reclamation at www.usbr.gov/watersmart/weeg/index.html.

Established by the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 2014, the WIFIA program is a federal loan and guarantee program administered by EPA. WIFIA’s aim is to accelerate investment in the nation’s water infrastructure by providing long-term and low-cost supplemental credit assistance for regionally and nationally significant projects. EPA’s WIFIA program plays an important part in President Trump’s infrastructure plan, which calls for expanding project eligibility. The WIFIA program has an active pipeline of pending applications for projects that will result in billions of dollars in water infrastructure investment and thousands of jobs. To date, EPA has issued 14 WIFIA loans totaling more than $3.5 billion in credit assistance to help finance more than $8 billion for water infrastructure projects while creating more than 15,000 jobs.

Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier in the United States and the nation’s second largest producer of hydroelectric power. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control and benefits to recreation as well as and fish and wildlife. Title XVI of P.L. 102-575, as amended (Title XVI), provides authority for Reclamation’s water recycling and reuse program, titled “Title XVI.” Through the Title XVI program, Reclamation identifies and investigates opportunities to reclaim and reuse wastewaters and impaired ground and surface water in the 17 Western States and Hawaii. Title XVI includes funding for the planning, design, and construction of water recycling and reuse projects in partnership with local government entities. In 2018, an estimated 431,000 acre-feet of water was recycled through Title XVI projects.

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