Senate Committee approves WIFIA; AWWA hails ‘pivotal moment’ for water infrastructure

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A US Senate Committee today passed legislation that would create a Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Authority, a development the American Water Works Association hailed as pivotal in confronting America’s trillion-dollar water infrastructure challenge.

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“WIFIA would help communities repair more critical water infrastructure at a lower cost. Ultimately, WIFIA would benefit everyone who pays a water bill.”

A US Senate Committee today passed legislation that would create a Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Authority (WIFIA), a development the American Water Works Association (AWWA) hailed as pivotal in confronting America’s trillion-dollar water infrastructure challenge.

If enacted into law, WIFIA would make low-interest federal loans available to address large water infrastructure projects in communities across the United States. AWWA, a chief proponent for the creation of WIFIA for several years, is urging water utilities and businesses across the water sector to actively support the bill as it heads to the full Senate.

“Today represents a pivotal moment in assuring America’s water infrastructure challenge is no longer buried,” said AWWA Executive Director David LaFrance. “WIFIA would help communities repair more critical water infrastructure at a lower cost. Ultimately, WIFIA would benefit everyone who pays a water bill.”

Based on a successful financing tool in the transportation sector, WIFIA would aid communities with pipe replacement, new or upgraded treatment plants, wastewater, reuse and desalination projects, and new water supply projects. The provision is part of the Water Resources Development Act of 2013, which is expected to reach the Senate floor by May of 2013.

“Committee Chair Barbara Boxer and Ranking Member David Vitter should be recognized for their exemplary bi-partisan effort to advance such a significant water infrastructure bill,” LaFrance said.

AWWA in 2012 published a comprehensive water infrastructure report titled “Buried No Longer: Confronting America’s Water Infrastructure Challenge,” demonstrating that more than $1 trillion will be required over the next 25 years to repair and expand existing drinking water infrastructure. The report noted that local utility customers will bear the cost of renewal through higher water rates, but that “states and the federal government can help with a careful and cost-effective program that lowers the cost of necessary investments to our communities, such as the creation of a credit support program – for example, AWWA’s proposed Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Authority.”

Founded in 1881, the American Water Works Association is an international, nonprofit, scientific and educational association committed to the safety and improvement of water quality and supply. Focusing its work in four strategic areas, Knowledge Creation and Exchange, Leadership and Advocacy, Member Engagement and Development, and Organizational Stewardship, AWWA unites the full spectrum of the water community to advance water management, education and science and to advocate for smart water policies.

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Deirdre Mueller
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