EPA announces US$6.5b in new funding for water infrastructure projects

Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) funds to revitalise water infrastructure, create jobs while prioritising progress on equity, climate, lead

At an address to water associations, utilities, and their workers to mark Water Week, US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael S. Regan announced the 2021 notice of funding availability under the agency’s Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) programme and state infrastructure financing authority WIFIA (SWIFIA) programme. These lending programmes accelerate investment in critical water infrastructure through innovative and flexible financing that can support a wide range of projects in both large and small communities.

He said: “EPA’s US$6.5 billion in water infrastructure funding will provide more than $13 billion in water infrastructure projects while creating more than 40,000 jobs. The announcement illustrates the multiple benefits of investing in water infrastructure – better public health and environmental protection, job creation, and economic development.”

EPA claimed its WIFIA loan programme has become “one of the most effective tools used to upgrade the country’s infrastructure”. To date, the agency’s 49 WIFIA loans are providing over $9.3 billion in credit assistance to help finance nearly $20 billion for water infrastructure while creating approximately 49,000 jobs and saving ratepayers over $4 billion. This round of WIFIA funding will provide up to $5.5 billion to support $11 billion in water infrastructure projects and prioritises five areas:

  • Supporting economically stressed communities.
  • Protecting water infrastructure against the impacts of climate change.
  • Reducing exposure to lead and addressing emerging contaminants.
  • Updating aging infrastructure.
  • Implementing new or innovative approaches including cybersecurity and green infrastructure.

EPA has also announced funding under SWIFIA. This programme, which was authorised by Congress as part of the Amercia’s Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA) of 2018, offers low-interest loans to state water infrastructure programmes 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.