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A U.S. Senate Committee on March 20 passed legislation that would create a Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Authority (WIFIA), which would make low-interest federal loans available to address large water infrastructure projects in communities across the United States.
The American Water Works Association (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,” AWWA Executive Director David LaFrance said in a statement. “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.
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“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 communties, such as the creation of a credit support program – for example, AWWA’s proposed Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Authority.”