From The Editor | April 18, 2018

7 Links To Your Share Of $5.5 Billion In WIFIA Funding

Pete Antoniewicz

By Pete Antoniewicz

7 Links To Your Share Of $5.5 Billion In WIFIA Funding

In the cash-strapped water sector, $5.5 billion doesn’t grow on trees. That is why, for drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities facing funding challenges due to regional growth, aging infrastructure, or other needs, the recent announcement of that amount of funding under the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) is welcome news.

According to the U.S. EPA website, the goal of the WIFIA program is to “accelerate investment in our nation's water and wastewater infrastructure by providing long-term, low-cost supplemental credit assistance under customized terms to creditworthy water and wastewater projects of national and regional significance.”

Dr. Andrew Sawyers, director of the Office of Wastewater Management at the EPA, points out that, “The program helps improve water quality and protect public health while supporting the local economy.” In its initial year (2017), the program invited 12 projects (out of 43 submitted Letters of Interest) to apply for more than $2 billion in WIFIA funding loans. This year, funding has doubled as the program will combine $1 billion of private funding with EPA State Revolving Fund (SRF) loans to finance more than $5 billion for two major priorities:

  1. Provide for clean and safe drinking water, including reducing exposure to lead in the nation’s drinking water systems; and
  2. Repair, rehabilitate, and replace aging infrastructure and conveyance systems.

The Opportunities Are Diverse

Of the 12 submissions funded last year, the majority were devoted to core drinking water treatment and wastewater treatment projects. Other awarded projects included overflow retention, groundwater replenishment, and limiting discharge to ocean outflow pipes, as well as infrastructure repair.

In addition to funding specific projects submitted by individual water-related entities, the program includes the ability to fund multiple projects grouped under one application, with specific focus on:

  • “A combination of eligible wastewater or drinking water projects … for which a SRF program submits a single application” or
  • “A combination of eligible projects … secured by a common security pledge, for which a single eligible entity, or a combination of eligible entities, submits a single application.”

This means that state, local, tribal, and federal government entities, partnerships and joint ventures, corporations and trusts, as well as Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) programs can each cluster funding for multiple projects within a single application.

The Rewards Are Attractive, But Time Is Of The Essence

As is true of many cases, for the better things in life, you have to work a bit harder — and in this case a bit faster — in order to meet the July 6, 2018 deadline. That is not a lot of time, but the potential rewards can be worth it. The program offers $5.5 billion in credit that — based on the 49 percent WIFIA funding cap per approved project — could finance more than $11 billion in water infrastructure. Finding time to pull together the required documentation, now, could be rewarded many times over with funding that will enable your operation to run more effectively and efficiently for years to come.

Before You Start, Review These Helpful Guidelines On Applying For WIFIA Funding

Whether a project is on your wish list or already on your “to-do” list, here are some useful references to help move it forward with additional funding support:

  • WIFIA Program Handbook — Learn the full story of WIFIA funding opportunities and qualifying criteria from this overview document.
  • Informative Webinars — Learn more about the WIFIA funding process in general, along with special consideration for Small Communities and Tribal Organizations, through a series of online webinars.
  • Letter of Interest Form — Ensure that your project gets full consideration by submitting a Letter of Interest that covers these four mandatory bases for qualification outlined in this document link:
  1. “the prospective borrower and the plans for the proposed project(s);
  2. “the proposed financial plan;
  3. “the status of the reports and studies required for the project(s); and
  4. “how the project meets the selection criteria of the WIFIA credit program.”
  • Letter Of Interest FAQs — Have questions about the program? Who is eligible? What types of projects qualify?  Evaluation criteria? This FAQ document can answer key questions and guide the application effort.
  • Letter of Interest Example — Gain insight and confidence for writing a Letter of Interest by following the format examples for Sections A through H, as shown in this download file.
  • Checklist — Confirm the collection of documents needed for your application by using this convenient submission checklist.
  • Sample Financial Pro Forma — Gain a greater understanding of what is required for a WIFIA funding application, as a guideline on how to gather the needed information and how to format the submission.

Another resource for groups or individuals interested in taking advantage of WIFIA funding opportunities is the free AWWA Webinar on that subject scheduled for April 26. Learn more or register at the AWWA website.

Image credit: "Corps begins work at FTI WTP project site," U.S. Army Corps of Engineers © 2013, used under an Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/