Methods to Financing Water Infrastructure Projects Subject of House Hearing

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and the Environment held a hearing to examine various financing mechanisms for water infrastructure projects on March 21. This hearing was the second of a two part investigation of the topic. The two hearings discussed the growing gap between the amount of money needed to upgrade and fix our Nation’s water infrastructure and the lack of funding available to make the needed repairs.

Subcommittee Chairman Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio) began the hearing by emphasizing the need to look at all “the tools in the toolbox” including both private and public sector investments. His draft bill creating a water infrastructure financing authority, known as WIFIA, was discussed at the hearing along with a variety of other financing mechanisms. In his opening statement, Chairman Gibbs emphasized that WIFIA was designed to compliment and not compete with the SRF program.

Subcommittee Ranking Member Timothy Bishop (D-NY) noted the similarities between Chairman Gibb’s WIFIA proposal and the version of WIFIA included in his bill HR 3145, the Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act of 2011. He characterized the main difference between the two versions as one of where the financing authority should rest, with the federal government or the states.

Eight witnesses testified at the hearing including Mr. Benjamin Grumbles, President, Clean Water America Alliance; Ms. Karen Massey, Director of the Missouri Environmental Improvement and Energy Resources Authority on behalf of the Council of Infrastructure Financing Authorities; and Mr. Rich Abelson, Director of AFSCME, Council 48. Witness testimony and hearing documents can be accessed here.