When the House and Senate resume session in September, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster intends to bring up consideration of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), a bill that authorizes federal funding for Corps of Engineers-backed water infrastructure projects nationwide. House Floor action could come as early as October. The bill will also address a number of policy issues, setting up an expedited planning process designed to get projects into construction sooner and at reduced costs.
The House bill is unlikely, however, to include a new Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) authority. The Senate-passed WRDA bill includes WIFIA, which would offer low-cost, long-term financing for water infrastructure projects both through the Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Under the Senate WRDA bill, WIFIA-backed loans would not begin loan repayment until five years following substantial completion of a project, with a 35-year repayment period. As of August 8, 2013, the TIFIA 35-year loan rate, which the WIFIA program is likely to replicate, was 3.68 percent.
If WIFIA were in place today, would your community pursue a WIFIA loan? Would the WIFIA loan rate allow you to move forward on a project more quickly than if the assistance was not in place? How much could your community save if WIFIA were in place today?
If WIFIA would help your community, tell your congressional delegation. Request a meeting while Members of Congress are back home and tell them how important WIFIA would be to your community.
House and Senate passage of a WIFIA program is far from assured.