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Concurrent with Congress’ action to pass the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2016 (discussed here), which authorized $20M in funding for the Water Infrastructure Finance an Innovation Act (WIFIA) of 2014, EPA has issued an interim direct rule to implement WIFIA. Congress authorized EPA to provide federal credit assistance through WIFIA in the form of loans or loan guarantees to various public and private entities for a wide array of water projects, including,
- Projects eligible under the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Programs (SRFs);
- Projects for enhanced energy efficiency in the operation of a public water system or a publicly owned treatment works;
- Projects for repair, rehabilitation, or replacement of a treatment works, community water system, or aging water distribution or waste collection facility (including a facility that serves a population or community of an Indian reservation);
- Brackish or sea water desalination projects;
- Managed aquifer recharge or water recycling projects;
- Acquisition of real property or an interest in real property if the acquisition is integral to an already eligible project or pursuant to an existing plan that, in the judgment of the Administrator, would mitigate the environmental impacts of water resources infrastructure projects otherwise eligible for assistance;
- A combinations of projects submitted to EPA by an SRF program under a single application; and
- A combination of projects secured by a common security pledge for which there is a single application.
EPA has established a WIFIA program office, under the leadership of Jim Gebhart, Director, who is available to answer questions and provide public assistance. The $20M is estimated to leverage $2B in additional funding for water infrastructure needs.
EPA’s rule can be found here. Comments are due by Feb. 17.