New Water Finance Bill a False Solution for Community Water Woes
Statement of Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter
Washington, D.C.— “Community water systems were dealt a raw deal today with the passage of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act, which among other things, establishes the misleadingly named Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA).
“WIFIA is anything but innovative. In fact, it is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. WIFIA will give low-interest loans primarily to private water corporations, compete with the State Revolving Funds (SRFs) for federal resources and place inappropriate pressure on local governments to privatize their drinking water and wastewater systems.
“Cities and towns will not be able to use tax-exempt bonds to cover the portion of an infrastructure project that WIFIA doesn’t fund. This effectively makes WIFIA useless for most municipalities. Over the last decade, state and local governments financed more than $1.65 trillion of infrastructure investments through the tax-exempt bond market.
“Ultimately, WIFIA will not serve communities, but wealthy, private interests. Food & Water Watch research shows that private control of municipal water systems leads to higher rates for consumers, workforce reductions and inefficient service.
“The EPA estimates that $384 billion is needed over the next 20 years to save deteriorating water systems. Federal grants have only provided $15 billion over the last 16 years. Since 1977, federal spending on improvements to our water and sewer systems has declined by more than 80 percent, adjusted for inflation.
“Congress and the Obama administration need to reconsider their priorities, and ensure that our nation’s water systems receive a stable, consistent source of funding like that from a Clean Water Trust Fund, so all communities have access to safe, clean, affordable water.”
Contact: Kate Fried, Food & Water Watch, (202) 683-4905, [email protected]