DENVER — Water utility leaders urged Congress in hundreds of meetings on Capitol Hill to increase the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act ‘s (WIFIA) effectiveness by repealing a ban on the use of tax-exempt bonds in projects funded by WIFIA, according to a press release.

Over 130 water utility leaders from 47 states went to Washington, D.C., March 18-19 for the American Water Works Association’s (AWWA) Water Matters! Fly In, and delegates wore “Free WIFIA” buttons as they met with Congress to discuss infrastructure and other water issues, stated the release.

WIFIA, signed into law in 2014, supplies low-interest federal loans for up to 49 percent of large drinking water, water reuse and wastewater projects, but as the law is written, it “prohibits tax-exempt bonds from funding the remaining 51 percent, taking away the most cost-effective tool for communities that seek WIFIA loans,” reported the release.

“Let’s free WIFIA to reach its full potential,” said AWWA CEO David LaFrance. “The water and wastewater infrastructure needs in the United States will likely top two trillion over the next 25 years, and WIFIA is an important tool to help communities manage those costs. But the prohibition on the use of tax-exempt bonds is an unnecessary barrier that impairs WIFIA’s effectiveness.”

Delegates for AWWA’s Water Matters! Fly In also urged Congress to protect the tax-exempt status of municipal bonds and to support full funding for WIFIA and for wastewater and drinking water state revolving loan funds, noted the release.

Read the entire release here.