With a $2 trillion water and wastewater infrastructure challenge facing America, the American Water Works Association today applauded Congress for appropriating an additional $10 million for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA).
The additional $10 million brings WIFIA funding in 2017 to $30 million, which can leverage an estimated $1.5 billion in federal loans. Because WIFIA can only fund 49 percent of a project’s cost, the loans may actually spur on approximately $3 billion in large water infrastructure projects.
The additional funding was included in the federal omnibus spending bill approved by Congress late last week, which keeps the government funded through Sept. 30. President Trump signed the bill on Friday.
“Our leaders in Congress deserve credit for recognizing the nation’s water infrastructure challenge and WIFIA’s power to tackle it,” said Tracy Mehan, AWWA Executive Director of Government Affairs.
AWWA, the chief architect of the WIFIA program, last week cheered news that 43 entities have expressed interested in WIFIA loans in its first year of funding. Modeled after the successful Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, WIFIA leverages federal dollars so that for every dollar Congress appropriates, 50 to 60 dollars are expected to be loaned out.
In a special report issued on May 4, Fitch Ratings, a global leader in credit ratings and research, observed that “WIFIA may play an important role accelerating investment fostering capital access for small municipalities and encouraging the best solutions (public, private or both) to the country’s water infrastructure challenges.”
“WIFIA-funded projects can potentially reduce the magnitude of increased costs to end users and temper the need to obtain rate increases related to capital,” said Fitch Ratings Director Stacey Mawson. “WIFIA can also spur partnerships between the public and private sectors, creating a forum for eliciting innovative proposals and problem solving.”
Established in 1881, the American Water Works Association is the largest nonprofit, scientific and educational association dedicated to managing and treating water, the world’s most important resource. With approximately 50,000 members, AWWA provides solutions to improve public health, protect the environment, strengthen the economy and enhance our quality of life.