Food & Water Watch: New Infrastructure Bill Could Exacerbate Weaknesses of WIFIA

Washington, D.C.—(ENEWSPF)—July 21, 2015. Statement of Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter:

“As the Senate begins to consider a new long-term highway funding bill, there has been discussion of including a change to the existing Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA). The change would enable concurrent use of tax-exempt bonds thus granting broader access to utilize WIFIA. This would result in lost revenue and subsidize a flawed program.

“WIFIA is an unacceptable approach to funding local water systems, as it competes with the underfunded State Revolving Funds (SRFs) for federal dollars, and places inappropriate pressure on communities to privatize their water systems. Food & Water Watch urges Congress to uphold the ban on using tax-exempt funding along with loans from WIFIA.

“It is imperative that the federal government uphold its commitment to funding local water systems, not create incentives to abdicate this critical function to private companies. Years of risky experimentation with privatization have shown that water service is most efficient and affordable when administered by a public entity. Any federal program that aims to reduce the cost of improving public water systems would be self-defeating if it promotes privatization as WIFIA does.

“Instead, President Obama and Congress should create a steady source of federal funding for community water systems by prioritizing funding for the SRFs to ensure that everyone in the United States has reliable access to safe, clean, affordable water.”