WRRDA on Its Way to the President

In nearly unanimous support, both the House and Senate, this week, passed the $12.3 billion Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) – HR 3080/HRpt. 113-449.  The bill’s principal focus is on water projects managed by the Corps of Engineers, selected dam safety initiatives, and harbor maintenance.
Of particular interest to state drinking water programs is the inclusion of a WIFIA-type (Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovations Act) pilot program to fund water and wastewater projects costing more than $20 million (or $5 million for smaller communities serving fewer than 25,000 in population).  The language for this new initiative can be found in Title V of the measure.
As ASDWA reported to states earlier this week, there is a “control point” added to the WIFIA pilot program that allows state SRF programs the equivalent of a “right of first refusal” — meaning that EPA must notify state SRFs of WIFIA applications, and the state SRF program then has 60 days to match the terms.  Other WIFIA-related provisions include:

  • Funds are available and will be managed through both EPA and the Corps of Engineers.
  • A WIFIA loan cannot finance more than 49% of the project (small communities can receive 100% financing).
  • Total Federally backed financing cannot exceed 80%.
  • Non-Federal financing for a project cannot be tax exempt.
  • All WIFIA financed projects must comply with ​Buy American Iron & Steel restrictions.
  • The loan repayment period is 35 years.

The bill authorizes the EPA and Corps each to receive $175 million – over 5 years – for loans and loan guarantees.  ​The first year’s authorization would be $20 million, to be followed, in subsequent years, by escalating funding levels of $25 million, $35 million, $45 million, and $50 million.  The legislation also directs the Government Accountability Office to conduct an assessment of the program in year four.  The following is a link to bill and ancillary information about it:  Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA).