Proposed EPA cuts could slash WIFIA in FY19; SRF funding maintained

EPA Headquarters

In the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies’ Monday Morning Briefing on water infrastructure news, the water organization representing drinking water utilities says the U.S. EPA’s total budget would be cut by roughly one quarter under President Donald Trump’s FY19 budget request sent to Congress last week.

Budget documents for FY19 show that the agency would see its funding reduced to $6.146 billion under the Trump plan, down from its FY17 appropriation of just over $8 billion. But the proposed reductions would not be applied evenly across the agency; several geographic programs, benefitting regions like the Chesapeake Bay and Long Island Sound, would be severely cut or eliminated completely, while others like the State Revolving Funds (SRFs) would maintain roughly level funding next year.

The budget requests $2.3 billion for the SRFs – with $863 million going toward the Drinking Water SRF and $1.394 billion set aside for the Clean Water SRF. Each of these sums is in line with the programs’ FY17 levels. Congress has yet to finalize an FY18 appropriations bill for EPA.

EPA’s Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program, however, would be in line for a significant cut under Trump’s budget. Despite praising WIFIA as a “powerful new tool to help address a variety of existing and new water infrastructure needs,” the budget would provide the program with only $20 million, just two-thirds of its total $30 million funding for FY17. Congress authorized WIFIA to receive up to $50 million in funding in FY19, the last year of the program’s initial authorization.

The president’s annual budget request is only the first step in a long appropriations process. Congress is expected to finalize the FY18 budget by March, thereby allowing lawmakers to turn their full attention to FY19.

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