The 114th session of Congress came to a close last week, only after Congress passed important water infrastructure legislation, and a bill to fund the government until April 2017.
The Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act, was signed into law last week. WIIN authorized $10 billion in new water infrastructure, navigation, flood control, and clean drinking water projects. Additionally, it authorized 30 Army Corps of Engineers water resources projects, and substantial funding for water infrastructure repair through the EPA’s State Revolving Funds and the newly capitalized WIFIA program. We at the Clean Water Council have been proponents of the WIFIA program and have rigorously advocated capitalization of the program, which provides low interest financing for large-scale ($20 million or greater, or $5 million for communities less than 25,000 people) water infrastructure.
Congress also passed, and the President signed, a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government until April 28, 2017. This legislation extends current funding levels for the State Revolving Funds, avoiding the significant cuts both the House and Senate proposed in their respective Interior Appropriations bills. While we should be happy to avoid these cuts, we should also celebrate the infusion of an additional $100 million into the Drinking Water SRF for communities experiencing drinking water emergencies, AND the capitalization of the WIFIA program. The $20 million appropriated for the WIFIA program, OMB estimates, will translate into $1.2 billion in new water infrastructure projects.
Both WIIN and the CR have significant benefits to the water infrastructure and clean water community, but are hopefully just the beginning. We at the Clean Water Council, hope President-elect Trump makes good on his promise to prioritize infrastructure in his new administration and will work to ensure water is a crucial component to his plan.