Unless they are just playing with our emotions, it looks very much like the amount of money available for states and local agencies for drinking water projects under the federal loan program known as the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) will nearly double in the next two years.
We finally see sustained growth in federal funding, a key position the Clean Water Construction Coalition (CWCC) has been advancing for years. ECA is one of the 23 state and regional utility construction associations that make up CWCC membership.
In September, Congress announced a bipartisan, bicameral agreement on the WRDA. Formally titled the “America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018,” the consensus legislation was announced by both House and Senate transportation, public works, and energy and commerce committee chairs and “ranking members” representing both parties.
Showing the Money
The bill reauthorizes the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DW SRF) at $1.174B for Federal FY19, $1.3B for Federal FY20 and $1.95B for Federal FY21. Starting from a baseline of $863M in Federal FY17, the Federal FY18 appropriation for DWSRF grew to $1.16B. If this WRDA bill is authorized and implemented, the DWSRF funded at 180% of current levels (or 225% of Federal FY17 levels) by 2020. For Federal FY19, the gains achieved in Federal FY 18 have been sustained and slightly increased, which was CWCCC’s baseline expectation.
Also, this bill reauthorizes Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA), making it into a permanent program and authorizing $50M for each of FY20 and FY21 ($50M can be leveraged to loan up to $500M/ year). It provides additional language for state financing authorities – allowing 100 percent loans so long as the State is responsible for any defaults for this assistance.
The new bill includes some (but not all) of the previously discussed Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN Act) provisions.
It does not reauthorize the Clean Water SRF (CWSRF), but that doesn’t mean there won’t continue to be an appropriation action, as Congress has been working without a CWSRF reauthorization for many years. CWSRF may be funded through the Federal FY 19 Interior & Environment Appropriations Bills currently in conference.
Where Are We Now
This bill has passed the House and a floor vote in the Senate is expected later this year, either before (unlikely) or after (more likely) the November 6th general elections. When CWCC staff lets us know, we’ll get the word out in one of our e-newsletters.
By Wes May ECA Executive Director Email: [email protected]