WASHINGTON—Experts shared their support for legislation introduced by U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) that will modernize investment in water infrastructure during a Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) hearing on the issue.
The Securing Required Funding for Water Infrastructure Now (SRF WIN) Act—introduced by Sens. Boozman (R-AR), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)—rejects the fix-as-fail approach currently used to upgrade the nation’s infrastructure and instead empowers states to invest in multiple water infrastructure projects.
The bill combines the best aspects of state revolving funds (SRFs) with the leveraging power of the Water Infrastructure and Innovation Act (WIFIA) to make the process easier and more affordable for states to meet their underserved or unmet water infrastructure needs.
In their testimony, both Executive Director of the Arkansas Rural Water Association Dennis Sternberg and President of the American Society of Civil Engineers Kristina Swallow praised Boozman’s bill.
Sternberg noted that “small and rural communities support Senators Boozman and Booker’s SRF WIN Act” while Swallow called the bill’s approach “innovative,” saying it “would offer a new and efficient tool to leverage limited federal resources and stimulate additional investment in our nation’s infrastructure.”
During the hearing, Boozman asked Sternberg what the additional tools created by the SRF WIN Act would mean for water infrastructure in rural America.
“This bill will allow the WIFIA program to be much more helpful to some of the rural communities that we have in Arkansas. But not only rural communities. We believe that it will be able to steer WIFIA to look at the communities with the greatest economic need and communities that each state thinks [are] a priority. It also allows for that low interest rate to come through with the WIFIA funding. It’ll be an excellent partnership with the SRF and it’ll be excellent to the utilities across the state of Arkansas and many states across the nation,” Sternberg said.
Boozman asked Swallow about how the SRF WIN Act could help address the growing shortfall in water infrastructure funding in America.
Swallow responded that it would be “one more tool in our tool box that will help our local communities fund the infrastructure that they need to serve their community’s needs” while highlighting how the bill would increase access, flexibility and leveraging power for state infrastructure programs.
The SRF WIN Act would:
- Authorize $200 million annually over five years to support state revolving fund projects exclusively, creating over $50 billion in project money.
- Encourage states to bundle their projects by waiving the $100,000 application fee and streamlining the application process to a maximum 180-day turnaround.
- Simplify the federal approval process by allowing thousands of vetted drinking water and wastewater projects to receive funding, eliminating the need for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to process thousands of additional loan applications.
- Preserve the successful state revolving funds (SRFs) and the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan program.