WEF, Others Urge Funding for WIFIA, SRF, and No Changes to Tax-Exempt Municipal Bonds

The Water Environment Federation (WEF) and other leading water organizations sent letters to Congress, the Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan and the Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, requesting that Congress and the Administration provide full funding to the newly authorized Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) as well as include it in EPA’s FY15 and FY16 budgets.

Along with American Water Works Association (AWWA), Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA), and the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), WEF also requested that the funding level for the Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving funds (SRFs) be maintained and no changes be made to the tax benefits of tax-exempt municipal bonds.

The WIFIA program is authorized to receive $25 million in FY16, which would equal approximately $250 million in loans for water infrastructure projects. As has been documented by advocates on and off Capitol Hill, the WIFIA pilot is intended to supplement the SRFs by delivering a new stream of low-cost financing for large-scale water and wastewater projects that are unlikely to meaningfully benefit from traditional SRF financing.

The organizations stress that, “EPA must seek funding for WIFIA in its FY16 budget request, alongside its request for maintaining level funding for the SRF programs. The 2016 fiscal year is pivotal, as it will represent the first federal budget request issued after WIFIA’s enactment, and therefore represents the first opportunity for Congress and the Administration to think about the pilot program in the context of EPA’s overall budget.”

As long-time WIFIA advocates, WEF, AWWA, AMWA, and NACWA have participated in EPA’s listening sessions on the pilot and will continue to offer assistance and support as the program gets underway.

The letter to Congress requests that the FY15 Interior & Environment Appropriations bill fund the program’s $20 million FY15 authorization is necessary to allow the EPA to move forward with its ongoing work to stand up the program. The letter also notes that WEF, AWWA, AMWA, and NACWA continue to receive resounding support from the drinking water and wastewater agencies that they represent who strongly desire a WIFIA program to help address the nation’s increasing infrastructure needs.

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