Congressional Panel Approves WIFIA Funds

Funding for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act moves forward.

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On Tuesday, Dec. 9, a U.S. House-Senate conference committee approved spending legislation for the 2015 fiscal year that includes funding for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act. The legislation must now go before the full House and Senate and then receive presidential approval before it becomes law.

Although the WIFIA portion of this omnibus bill does not include funding for project loans, it does provide the full $2.2 million Congress authorized earlier this year for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to set up the WIFIA program.

“We have been hearing on the Hill that Congress believes WIFIA is a great, new idea, and in providing this funding to get the program established, Congress has proven that it believes in WIFIA,” says Tommy Holmes, legislative director for the American Water Works Association. “Next we will focus on obtaining appropriations so the WIFIA program can issue the actual loans. This will be a key topic at our annual fly-in this spring.”

Other highlights for the water community in the omnibus bill include the following:

  • Funding for the drinking water and wastewater SRF programs at last year’s levels — $907 million for drinking water and $1.45 billion for wastewater (At least 20 percent, but not more than 30 percent of the funds are to be used for additional loan subsidy techniques, such as principal forgiveness or negative-interest loans. Up to 2 percent is reserved for grants).
  • Funding for the Public Water System Supervision grant program — grants to help states administer the Safe Drinking Water Act — at 2014's level of $101.9 million.
  • A permanent rescinding of $40 million in unobligated balances from the State and Tribal Assistance Grants account — this account includes the SRFs and the PWSS programs.
  • $12.7 million for a competitive grant program for nonprofits to provide technical assistance for improved water quality or safe drinking water to rural and urban communities or private well owners.
  • $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which is equivalent to 2014.
  • A withholding of significant funding from the Office of the Administrator and the Office of Congressional Affairs until certain overdue reports are sent to Congress, including one on Drinking Water Treatment Compliance Flexibility.


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