In a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Office of Management and Budget, the American Water Works Association is urging that water infrastructure needs be addressed in the federal budget for fiscal year 2018.
“Water infrastructure is vital to our nation’s well-being,” wrote Tracy Mehan, AWWA executive director of government affairs, in the Feb. 27 letter. “It protects public health and the environment, supports local and national economies, protects us from fires, creates jobs and brings us a higher quality of life.”
Specifically, AWWA recommended the budget:
Fund the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) at $45 million, which is the amount authorized in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014;
Fund the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) at $1.8 billion;
Maintain funding at the levels found in the Further Continuing and Security Assistance Appropriations Act of 2017 for research that assists EPA in preparing sound regulations related to drinking water; and
Maintain funding at levels found in the Further Continuing and Security Assistance Appropriations Act of 2017 for EPA’s Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water within the Office of Water to support development of sound regulations related to drinking water.
Congress funded WIFIA for the first time in the 2017 budget, appropriating $20 million for the loan program. WIFIA lowers the cost of large water infrastructure projects by providing low-interest, long-term federal loans to communities. AWWA noted in its letter that based on estimates from the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, funds appropriated through the WIFIA program could be leveraged at a ratio of 67:1. If the program were to receive the $45 million authorized for fiscal year 2018, it could cover over $3 billion in credit assistance.
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.