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US EPA announces $6 billion in new funding for water infrastructure projects

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced $6 billion in new funding for water infrastructure projects.

The 2020 funding is being made available under its Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program, including funding for the new State infrastructure financing authority WIFIA (SWIFIA) program.

The funding availability builds on, 24 WIFIA loans issued by the EPA to date totaling $5.3 billion in credit assistance to help finance $11.7 billion for water infrastructure projects while creating 25,000 jobs.

The funding programs accelerate investment in critical water infrastructure through innovative and flexible financing that can support diverse projects in both large and small communities. This year’s funding will provide up to $6 billion to support $12 billion in water infrastructure projects while creating more than 35,000 jobs and improving public health and environmental protection in communities across the country.

“EPA’s WIFIA loan program has become one of the most effective tools used in President Trump’s efforts to upgrade our nation’s infrastructure, create jobs and safeguard public health and the environment,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “This new round of $6 billion in funding comes in time to help communities that are trying to recover from the health and financial stress of the COVID-19 pandemic and, for the first time, includes funding expressly available to states.”

The announcement marks the fourth round of WIFIA funding. This year’s notice of funding availability prioritizes construction-ready projects in three areas:

  • updating aging infrastructure;
  • reducing exposure to lead and addressing emerging contaminants;
  • water reuse and recycling.

The 2020 notice of funding availability builds upon the existing, active pipeline of WIFIA projects, which includes 49 projects in 19 states and D.C. For the first time, the agency will evaluate submitted projects using additional criteria that were developed to help clarify project and federal budgetary considerations. EPA will accept letters of interest from prospective WIFIA borrowers for 90 days after publication in the Federal Register.

EPA is also, for the first time, providing funds under SWIFIA. This new program, which was authorized by Congress as part of the America’s Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA) of 2018, offers low-interest loans to state water infrastructure programs (e.g., the State Revolving Funds) that then help finance needed water infrastructure projects in local communities.

This round of funding will provide SWIFIA borrowers up to $1 billion to support $2 billion in water infrastructure projects. EPA will accept letters of interest from state water infrastructure programs for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

Established by the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 2014, the WIFIA program is a federal loan and guarantee program at EPA that aims to accelerate investment in the nation’s water infrastructure by providing long-term, low-cost supplemental loans for regionally and nationally significant projects.

WIFIA credit assistance can be used for a wide range of projects, including:

  • 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; and
  • drought prevention, reduction, or mitigation projects.

The EPA will evaluate proposed projects described in the letters of interest using WIFIA’s statutory and regulatory criteria as described in the notice of funding availability. Through this competitive process, EPA will select projects that it intends to fund and invite them to continue the application process.

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