WEF, water orgs request WIFIA/SRF funding, no tax-exempt municipal bond changes
To request that Congress and the Obama Administration provide full funding to WIFIA and include it in EPA's FY15 and FY16 budgets, WEF and other water organizations sent letters to Congress, the Office of Management, and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy earlier this week.
ALEXANDRIA, VA, Nov. 7, 2014 -- In an effort to request that Congress and the Obama Administration provide full funding to the newly authorized Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) and include it in the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) FY15 and FY16 budgets, the Water Environment Federation (WEF) and other leading water organizations sent letters to Congress, the Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan, and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy earlier this week.
Along with the American Water Works Association (AWWA), Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) and National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), WEF also requested that the funding level for the Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving funds (SRF) 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 (see "Water leaders push for passage of WIFIA on 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.
"EPA must seek funding for WIFIA in its FY16 budget request, alongside its request for maintaining level funding for the SRF programs," the organizations stated. "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."
The letter to Congress requests that the FY15 Interior & Environment Appropriations bill fund the program's $20-million FY15 and that authorization is necessary to allow 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.
"Mind the Gap: Is WIFIA the Answer for US Water Difficulties?"
Founded in 1928, the Water Environment Federation (WEF) is a not-for-profit technical and educational organization of 36,000 individual members and 75 affiliated Member Associations representing water quality professionals around the world. WEF members, Member Associations and staff proudly work to achieve our mission to provide bold leadership, champion innovation, connect water professionals, and leverage knowledge to support clean and safe water worldwide. For more information, visit www.wef.org.