AMWA Statement on the “Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act” in the WRRDA Conference Agreement

May 15, 2014

Diane VanDe Hei, Executive Director of the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA), released the following statement today in response to the “Water Resources Reform and Development Act” (WRRDA) conference agreement:

“AMWA has long advocated in favor of a low-cost credit assistance program to help metropolitan drinking water utilities finance large-scale infrastructure projects, so we are pleased that the WRRDA conference report includes a “Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act” (WIFIA) pilot program. All members of the conference committee, and in particular Senator Barbara Boxer and Congressman Bob Gibbs, deserve our thanks for their efforts to make WIFIA a reality.

“While WIFIA’s inclusion in WRRDA marks an important step, AMWA will begin working immediately to amend the pilot’s prohibition on the use of tax-exempt municipal bonds to supplement a project’s WIFIA funding. If left unchanged this prohibition, in combination with another provision that limits most WIFIA loans to covering a maximum of 49 percent of a project’s cost, will have the practical effect of deterring many communities from taking advantage of WIFIA assistance.

“We understand the tax-exempt financing restriction was not conceived as a matter of policy, but was necessary to achieve a clean budget score. We appreciate that conferees worked hard in their attempts to resolve this issue, so AMWA is confident that lawmakers who have consistently supported WIFIA will continue working with us to do so in the months ahead.

“AMWA again thanks conferees for supporting WIFIA, and looks forward to ensuring the proposal fulfills its potential as an effective mechanism to create jobs and rebuild the water infrastructure of the nation’s metropolitan areas.”

The Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies is an organization of the largest publicly owned drinking water suppliers in the United States.

Dan Hartnett