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Water Resources Development Act Features WIFIA Pilot Program

March 29, 2013
On March 20, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee unanimously approved a Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) in an effort to address our nation’s aging harbors and inland waterways. The bill would seek to further leverage government funds for water infrastructure projects through an innovative financing pilot project program—referred to as the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA)—which can help our nation meet its infrastructure improvement needs. The WIFIA, based on a popular program in the transportation sector, takes the dollars appropriated to it, leverages them in the market and takes that total available assistance and loans it from the Administration directly to a project. Title X of WRDA has $250 million authorized for the WIFIA program ($50 million per year for five years 2014-2018) with eligibility for both water resources projects (flood control, levees, dams, etc.) and water/wastewater infrastructure. Projects that are eligible for SRF funding are eligible for funding from this WIFIA, as are energy efficiency upgrades, desalination, and acquisition of real property. Projects carried out by a non-public entity are eligible, provided that they have a public sponsor. There is a $20 million minimum for eligibility, and repayment of the loan must be from a dedicated revenue source. The AGC co-chaired Water Infrastructure Network (WIN) sent a letter in support of this provision and its inclusion in WRDA, but cautioned that this program must work in tandem with, rather than supplant, the existing SRF programs. While this innovative financing approach is a step in the right direction, water infrastructure still faces the problem of competition for an increasingly shrinking pot of available appropriations dollars, whether its capitalization grants to the SRFs or seed money for a WIFIA. AGC will continue to advocate for a long-term funding solution. For more information, contact Scott Berry at (703) 837-5321 or berrys@agc.org.
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