Water sector groups support bill to extend WIFIA

In January, the American Water Works Association (AWWA), the Water Environment Federation (WEF), the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) and the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) endorsed House of Representatives legislation that would extend EPA’s Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program through 2024.

The groups formally expressed support for H.R. 4492, the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Reauthorization Act, in a letter to Rep. Brian Mast (R-Fla.), who introduced the legislation late last year. The bill would reauthorize WIFIA for five years beyond its currently scheduled expiration in 2019, while doubling the program’s FY18 authorization from $45 million to $90 million and ramping up authorized funding levels to $140 million by 2024.

The bill would also give EPA new authority to work with the Army Corps of Engineers to consider applications for projects intended to address flood damage reduction; hurricane and storm impacts; and coastal, inland harbor or intercoastal waterway navigation improvements. The existing WIFIA statute makes these types of projects eligible for funding through a separate Army Corps-administered WIFIA program, but the Corps has taken no steps to make this program operational.

A joint letter by the water associations said H.R. 4492 would solidify the future of WIFIA and position the program for continued future success. The bill currently has three cosponsors in the House of Representatives, and a Senate version is expected to be introduced soon.

Supporters have indicated that the bill could potentially be attached to Water Resources Development Act legislation Congress expects to consider this year.

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