We are delighted to begin our 2016 weekly posts by reporting on a triumph for CWC and all those like us who are committed to greater funding for our nation’s water infrastructure!
We devoted several 2015 posts to discussing our efforts lobbying for a repeal of the ban on using tax-exempt bonds to finance projects under the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA). Those efforts finally paid off when Congress included in the transportation funding law passed last month (known as the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act) a provision lifting the ban, releasing the flow of desperately needed federal funds for critical water infrastructure projects all over the country.
In repealing the ban, Congress heard our call to remove a significant obstacle to WIFIA’s loan program, which was set up in June 2014 to provide low-cost loans to a broad range of large water infrastructure projects. Specifically, the five-year, $350 million program allows utilities to borrow up to 49% of the costs for large drinking water, wastewater, stormwater and water reuse projects.
Given our country’s enormous water infrastructure investment needs (we have reported before on the nearly $2 trillion estimated to be needed over the next 25 years to restore our deteriorating water and wastewater infrastructure and expand our water systems), we at CWC are gratified, and we are optimistic that 2016 will see further progress along these lines.