U.S. Congressman Brian Mast (R-Fla.) on Nov. 30 introduced the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Reauthorization Act of 2017 to extend and double the funding authorization for a critical credit assistance program designed to accelerate investment in our nation’s water infrastructure.
The bipartisan bill — co-sponsored by Representatives Bob Gibbs (OH-7), Sean Maloney (NY-12) and Julia Brownley (CA-26) — extends the authorization for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) until 2024 and doubles the authorization to $90 million.
“The water issues in our community have been devastating, and it’s clear that we need to do more to make every possible tool available to fix the problem,” Rep. Mast said. “Strengthening this bipartisan program will make more resources available for ecosystem restoration, non-point source pollution management projects, estuary conservation projects and more.”
Established as part of the 2014 Water Resources Reform and Development Act, the WIFIA program is a federal loan and guarantee pilot program that aims to accelerate investment in our nation’s water infrastructure by providing long-term, low-cost supplemental credit assistance for regionally and nationally significant projects. WIFIA offers greater financial flexibility to utilities, municipalities, nonprofits and other eligible entities who may lack the capacity to fund water infrastructure upgrades by helping cover up to 49 percent of the project costs. The pilot program is currently set to expire in 2019.
“Improving public water systems can be costly, and EPA consent decrees put considerable pressure on the budgets of cities and municipalities,” Rep. Gibbs said. “Rather than putting the squeeze on local officials, EPA can utilize WIFIA and help supplement state revolving funds to assist local governments in providing safe and affordable water utilities and make necessary repairs to their aging water infrastructure.”
The Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act reauthorizes WIFIA for an additional five years (FY2020 to FY2024). Additional information can be found at epa.gov.