WASHINGTON — With pivotal water infrastructure legislation in the balance, more than 130 water utility leaders from 46 states traveled to Capitol Hill on April 1 to advocate for the creation of a Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Authority (WIFIA) during the American Water Works Association’s (AWWA) Water Matters! Fly In, according to a press release.

The fly in event comes as AWWA releases its 2014 State of the Water Industry Report, which shows that water and wastewater infrastructure is the top concern of water professionals throughout North America, the release noted.

A 2012 in-depth study from AWWA showed the costs of repairing and expanding drinking water infrastructure alone will top $1 trillion over the next 25 years, reported the release.

“Our nation’s water systems protect public health and the environment, make fire protection possible and are vital to any community’s long-term economic growth and stability,” said AWWA President Jim Chaffee. “By holding down the cost of financing large water projects, WIFIA will result in lower water bills for consumers.”

According to the release, the WIFIA proposal, modeled after a successful program in the transportation sector, would make low-interest federal loans available for large water, wastewater and storm water projects.