Water Groups Continue Pressing Lawmakers on WIFIA, SRF Funds

The American Water Works Association, the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies and the Water Environment Federation have sent?joint letters to appropriations committees in?both?the House and?the Senate?seeking full funding for the new Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act and for the existing State Revolving?Fund programs for fiscal year 2015.

?It is important to note that the SRFs, with their focus on directing assistance to projects necessary to achieve compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Clean Water Act, respectively, have a narrower scope than WIFIA, which offers eligibility to a wider variety of water infrastructure projects,? the associations wrote.

?For this reason, funding for WIFIA should not come at the expense of the SRFs, just as SRF funding should not come at the expense of WIFIA. For FY 2015 Congress should fund the WIFIA program at the authorized amount of $20 million and the SRF programs at their FY2014 levels, at a minimum. Then all facets of the nation?s water infrastructure ? projects large and small, compliance-focused or forward-looking ? may have a chance to compete for low-cost financing.?

Legislation authorizing WIFIA?passed both chambers by wide margins and the bill now awaits President Obama?s signature. The three associations have been working together for about three years to get a WIFIA bill passed. Joining them in support were the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National League of Cities, the Water Design-Build Council, American Beverage Association, American Council of Engineering Companies, National Ground Water Association, Water and Sewer Distributors of America and the Water Reuse Association.

WIFIA would provide loans for water infrastructure projects — too large for SRF loans or for broader purposes than the SRF allows — at long-term U.S. Treasury rates, thus providing significant financial benefits for water utilities and their customers. If a community can save just two percentage points on the interest rate for a 30-year loan, that results in cost savings of 25 percent for the total project. By holding down the cost of water project finance, WIFIA will directly benefit consumers by improving the affordability of service and allowing greater investment in water infrastructure than would otherwise be possible.

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