The Environmental Protection Agency has announced $7.5 billion in funding is available for water infrastructure projects.
The financing comes from the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA), which is a low-interest loan program to help communities invest in drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure. The loans aim to save millions of dollars and create good-paying local jobs.
The EPA’s WIFIA program has provided $19 billion to date, financing 109 projects across the country. The projects are creating 60,000 jobs, according to the EPA. The latest availability of financing is the EPA’s seventh round of WIFIA funding. Of the $7.5 billion announced, $6.5 billion is available through the WIFIA program, and $1 billion is available through the State WIFIA program, which is exclusively for state infrastructure financing authority borrowers.
“When we invest in water, we support healthy people, economic opportunity, environmental protection and good-paying local jobs,” EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan said in a statement. “This new funding from the WIFIA program – coupled with President Biden’s historic $50 billion investment in water through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – bolsters EPA’s efforts to ensure communities across the country have solid water infrastructure and reliable access to safe and clean water.”
The EPA said it is accepting letters of interest for the WIFIA and SWIFIA loans, and prospective borrowers can also receive technical assistance to develop a funding request that meets WIFIA’s program requirements. This assistance aims to help small and disadvantaged communities benefit from the funding. The EPA has identified a handful of priority areas, including increasing investment in economically stressed communities; making rapid progress on lead service line replacement; addressing PFAS and emerging contaminants; mitigating the impacts of drought, and supporting water innovation and resilience.
The WIFIA program was established in 2014 and is administered by the EPA. The program currently has an active pipeline of pending applications for projects that will result in billions of dollars in water infrastructure investment, according to the EPA. Last year, 42 borrowers were selected to apply for WIFIA funding. The selection process has been broadened to a rolling basis, enabling 17 small and disadvantaged communities to be selected for WIFIA financing.
The funding also comes as the Biden administration has taken steps to boost federal funding resources for communities and utilities to improve water and wastewater resources, including the Infrastructure Law, which had a $50 billion investment in upgrading critical water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure.