WASHINGTON — April 14, 2016 — More than 130 water utility professionals from 47 states visited their members of Congress in Washington, D.C. last week to urge funding for critical loan programs to repair and renew water and wastewater systems across the U.S.
During the the Water Matters! Fly-In, an annual event hosted by the American Water Works Association (AWWA), the water utility leaders took part in more than 300 meetings with elected representatives over two days.
In particular, they made the case for Congress to:
- Support fully authorized funding — $35 million — for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA).
- Allow WIFIA to more fully realize its potential by removing the 49 percent cap on WIFIA support of a project.
- Support at least $1.3 billion in funding for the drinking water State Revolving Loan fund program and another $1.3 billion for the wastewater program.
- Remove the annual volume caps for private activity bonds for water infrastructure projects.
“The buried water infrastructure that serves our homes and businesses is critical to our public health and safety, to our economy and to the quality of life we enjoy,” commented AWWA CEO David LaFrance. “We should not wait until moments of crisis to move forward on important water infrastructure projects.”
Congress passed WIFIA in 2014 to complement State Revolving Loan funds, providing communities with low-interest loans for large water projects that cost $20 million or more. However, Congress has yet to appropriate money to make loans, AWWA said.
“Now is the time for WIFIA to begin making those loans it was designed to make,” argued Tracy Mehan, AWWA executive director of government affairs. “And remember, because WIFIA is strictly a loan program, it results in no long-term net cost to the taxpayers.”