Water nonprofit to begin work in Texas

Dec. 21, 2021
Water Finance Exchange, a nonprofit focused on developing drinking water and wastewater infrastructure for underserved communities, has launched a fund dedicated to infrastructure in Texas

The Water Finance Exchange (WFX) has announced the launch of a new fund to expand its work throughout Texas and address funding shortages of water infrastructure projects.

Beginning in early 2022, WFX’s revolving Texas Pre-Development Fund will issue below-market, low interest loans and provide advisory support to communities seeking to fund adequate drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. WFX will work directly with each community to develop a financial plan, identify alternative funding sources, and remain involved until deal closure.

The Washington, DC-based non-profit wrapped up its inaugural year in 2021, providing direct funding and advisory support to several small and underserved communities across the nation. The group seeks to create a pipeline of community water infrastructure project opportunities that will attract funding from a range of public and private financing entities through its rigorous pre-development process.

WFX will continue to work with underserved communities nationally, but will have a special focus on community needs in Texas thanks to significant opportunity in the state and a lead grant from Lyda Hill Philanthropies.

In Texas, hundreds of smaller communities face water scarcity, economic hardship, and a lack of safe drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. With a commitment to support and build on the exceptional work of leading institutions such as the Texas Water Development Board, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Texas Water Foundation, and Texas Water Trade, WFX hopes to be a strong partner in directly providing support to underserved communities across the state.

As infrastructure and recovery funds are made available through the new Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal and the American Rescue Plan Act, WFX will be engaging those communities most in need to help them access and deploy the funds sustainably.

“The efforts of WFX are needed in Texas as the state grapples with population growth and diminishing water resources. WFX will provide the expertise and capacity to support smaller, underserved communities in their efforts to access capital to address their water management needs,” said Matt Crommett, Director of Lyda Hill Philanthropies and LH Capital, Inc.

As part of WFX’s plan to engage leaders throughout the water sector, particularly those in Texas, WFX hosted a workshop on December 15, 2021 in El Paso, TX. The gathering sought to produce a roadmap for enhanced collaboration to meet water and wastewater needs of underserved communities across Texas. Initial candidate communities in need of WFX’s support were identified, including Colonias, as well as communities throughout the Texas Rio Grande border region and far west Texas area.

Workshop participants included leaders from some affected communities and representation from the public and private sectors, including the Texas Water Development Board, Texas Water Foundation, Dig Deep, Engineers without Borders, Water Funder Initiative, CoBank, Environmental Defense Fund, Texas Water Trade, Environmental Policy Innovation Center, Council of Infrastructure Financing Authorities, Rural Community Assistance Partnership, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, to name a few.

“Struggling communities urgently need solutions to develop and finance their water systems,” said Hank Habicht, WFX Managing Co-Founder and Texas resident. “This workshop was a first step in the creation of a community of practice that may serve as a resource for these underserved communities, while developing models that can be scaled to reach additional communities.”