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Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act

Recommendation

Provide $35 million to fund the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act for Fiscal Year 2017.

Background

The 2014 Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) is a five-year pilot program that provides tax-free municipal bonds and low-interest loans for up to 49% of the cost of construction for water, wastewater, stormwater and water reuse projects. The loan program was enacted as part of the 2014 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which is routinely enacted legislation to address water resource issues and needs. The pilot program will expire in 2019.

The program is modeled after the successful Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) which provides loans, loan guarantees and standby lines of credit to pay for surface transportation projects such as highways, transit, railroad, intermodal freight and post access.

Although many utilities have access to bond funding at lower rates, this program provides options for utilities that struggle to qualify for that type of funding.

Although the program was created two years ago, only minimal funding has been provided to establish the internal framework to manage the program. The President requested $20 million in funding for Fiscal Year 2017 – the first project-based request for the program.

Benefits

  • The loan program can help advance qualified, large scale projects that otherwise might be delayed or deferred because of size, complexity or uncertainty in future funding.  

Funding Position

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