Water and infrastructure companies take note: the feds have made $1 billion in low-cost loans available for water infrastructure projects.
The EPA today announced about $1 billion in credit assistance for such projects under the new Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program, which will provide long-term, low-cost loans and loan guarantees.
The agency says this provides another option for financing large infrastructure projects — generally at least $20 million — in addition to the State Revolving Funds and bond market.
These projects may include:
- drinking water treatment and distribution projects
- wastewater conveyance and treatment projects
- enhanced energy efficiency projects at drinking water and wastewater facilities
- desalination, aquifer recharge, alternative water supply and water recycling projects
- drought prevention, reduction or mitigation projects
The US needs about $660 billion in investments for drinking water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure over the next 20 years, according to EPA estimates, although others have put the price tag even higher. Replacing US water pipes alone would cost at least $1 trillion over the next 25 years, according to the American Water Works Association.
The EPA’s loan announcement follows the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act, signed into law by President Obama last month, which authorizes nearly $10 billion in federal investments.
WIFIA is available to private corporations and partnerships, as well as state, local and tribal governments and and State Revolving Fund programs. The EPA says funds appropriated to the WIFIA program can be leveraged at a ratio greater than 50 to one, which means the $17 million program budget could allow the EPA to make about $1 billion in loans and stimulate about $2 billion in total infrastructure investment.
Also this week New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he wants to invest $2 billion in the state’s water infrastructure.
The proposed Clean Water Infrastructure Act, announced Monday, would provide funding to upgrade drinking water systems, improve wastewater systems, and protect drinking water at its source, Cuomo said in a statement.