WASHINGTON — The American Water Works Association (AWWA) is celebrating the unveiling of a Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) in two pieces of Senate legislation.
On Nov. 12, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) introduced a WIFIA bill in the US Senate, S.3626. Three days later, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing on a draft of the Water Resources Development Act, which also included WIFIA. Details in both pieces of legislation are likely to undergo adjustments.
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AWWA and its partners in the water community have been working for the introduction of WIFIA legislation for the past few years, testifying before Congress multiple times and approaching legislators with the concept at the annual Water Matters! Fly In. In February 2012, AWWA released its “Buried No Longer: Confronting America’s Water Infrastructure Challenge” report, which demonstrates that more than $1 trillion will be needed over the next 25 years to replace and expand aging drinking water infrastructure. Wastewater needs are similar in scope.
“The introduction of the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act marks an important step forward in confronting America’s urgent water infrastructure challenge,” said AWWA Executive Director David LaFrance. “WIFIA would provide communities across the U.S. with access to low-cost capital to address their most significant water infrastructure needs, without adding to the long-term federal deficit. It would fill a significant gap between what current water infrastructure tools can do and what needs to be done.”