Hearing Held on Impacts of an Expansion of Federal Jurisdiction Under Clean Water Act.

Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Bob Gibbs (R-OH) led a hearing on June 11 to examine the potential impacts of a United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and United States Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) proposed joint rulemaking to change the scope of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act.

The hearing, entitled “Potential Impacts of Proposed Changes to the Clean Water Act Jurisdictional Rule,” focused on the potential impacts of the proposed change in federal authority.


For  further information including a list of witnesses and the text of the opening statements of Chairman Gibbs and Bill Shuster, click here. 

To read the original press release accompanying the proposed rule, click here



EPA Report Shows Certain States Not Maximizing Use of State Revolving Funds

According to a recent audit performed by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Inspector General (OIG), some states are not maximizing the use of Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (DWSRFs), resulting in “missed opportunities” to improve water system infrastructure.


OIG performed the audit to determine whether the EPA has effectively identified unused (“unliquidated”) DWSRF assistance funds. EPA has a goal of maintaining unliquidated DWSRFs at a level below 13 percent of grants awarded. The audit looked at the use of DWSRFs in five states – California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Missouri and New Mexico – and found that all five of these states executed small numbers of loans each year and did not maximize the use of their DWSRF resources. As a result of their failure to properly project the DWSRF resources that would be available and to anticipate the projects able to be financed with those resources, the report states, “$231 million of capitalization grant funds remained idle, loans were not issued, and communities were not able to implement needed drinking water improvements.”


No penalties were imposed as a result of the OIG’s findings, but the OIG did propose that EPA require states with unliquidated obligations exceeding the 13 percent cutoff goal to better project future cash flows to ensure funds are spent more efficiently. It also recommended that EPA develop guidance for states on what should be included in lists of projects to be funded by DWSRFs.

To view the full report, click here.

Special T&I Panel Releases Report

on Public-Private Partnerships

In mid September the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Panel on Public-Private Partnerships (P3s) released its final report and recommendations on how to balance the needs of the public and private sector when using P3s to finance infrastructure projects. The Panel was formed in January to examine the current use of P3s across all modes of transportation, public buildings, water, and maritime infrastructure, with the goal of ensuring that federal policies unlock the potential of P3s to strengthen our nation's infrastructure while protecting the public interest. “Billions of dollars of infrastructure needs in the U.S. are in search of funding, and well-executed public-private partnerships can enhance the delivery and management of infrastructure,” Panel Chairman Rep. John J. Duncan, Jr. (R-TN), said. “P3s cannot provide the sole solution to all of the Nation’s infrastructure needs, but they can offer significant benefits, particularly for high-cost, technically complex projects that otherwise may risk dying on the vine.”


The Report devotes a full section to water and wastewater treatment systems, noting that because our country's water infrastructure is "aging, deteriorating, and in need of repair, replacement, and upgrading," the needs of municipalities to address this infrastructure are "substantial, potentially exceeding $400 billion over the next 20 years, roughly twice the current level of investment by all levels of government." The Report states that P3s can accelerate water infrastructure project delivery compared to publicly financed projects and have the potential to augment traditional water system financing methods such as tax exempt municipal bonds and State Revolving Funds.


The Report notes that private sector capital is a potential source of financing for water and wastewater infrastructure and points out that while historically rare, there are examples of municipally owned utilities entering into agreements with private companies to manage their water systems.


Two recent examples cited in the Report are Rialto, California, which in 2012 signed a 30-year agreement with a private water services contractor to oversee a $41 million investment in capital improvements to Rialto's water system while the city retains asset ownership, and Bayonne, New Jersey, whose municipal utility signed, also in 2012, a 40-year agreement with an investment firm in which the utility retains ownership of assets and responsibility for setting rates, while the private entity operates the system, invests $107 million, and retires $130 million of debt.


The Panel called for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency to work with the Departments of Transportation and Treasury as they implement the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program authorized in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014, and encouraged the DOT and other agencies to share lessons learned regarding innovative financing programs with the Corps of Engineers and EPA as they implement this new credit program.

The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will use the Panel’s recommendations as a resource when considering future legislation.

To read the Panel's full report and recommendations, click here.


WRRDA Becomes Law

On June 10, President Obama signed into law the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA). The law authorizes the Army Corps of Engineers to undertake water resources projects – including flood control, navigation, ecosystem restoration, water supply and energy management – under their jurisdiction. It also contains innovative financing measures such as Public Private Partnerships and the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) as pilot programs.The Senate’s WRDA contains the WIFIA as its Title XI. WIFIA would make low-interest federal loans for large water infrastructure projects available in communities across the U.S.


On June 10, President Obama signed into law the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA). The law authorizes the Army Corps of Engineers to undertake water resources projects – including flood control, navigation, ecosystem restoration, water supply and energy management – under their jurisdiction. It also contains innovative financing measures such as Public Private Partnerships and the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) as pilot programs.The Senate’s WRDA contains the WIFIA as its Title XI. WIFIA would make low-interest federal loans for large water infrastructure projects available in communities across the U.S.


To see a full list of authorized projects, visit our State by State page.



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White House Rural Council

Announces $10 Billion Fund

to Finance Rural Infrastructure

In late June the White House Rural Council announced the creation of a new U.S. Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund through which private entities can invest in rural infrastructure projects across the United States.White House Rural Council announced the creation of a new U.S. Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund through which private entities can invest in rural infrastructure projects across the United States. CoBank, a cooperative bank based in Greenwood Village, Colorado, has committed an initial $10 billion to launch the fund. Target investments will include hospitals, schools and other educational facilities, rural water and wastewater systems, energy projects, broadband expansion, local and regional food systems, and other rural infrastructure. Capitol Peak Asset Management, which has offices in Washington, D.C. and Denver, will manage the new fund and work to recruit more investors to add to CoBank's initial commitment. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other federal agencies will help to identify rural projects that could be potential beneficiaries of financing through this new fund and other private sources.


"This fund represents a new approach to our support for job-creating projects across the country," said Tom Vilsack, USDA Secretary and Chair of the White House Rural Council. "USDA and other agencies invest in infrastructure through a variety of federal initiatives, but our resources are finite and there are backlogs of projects in many parts of the economy."


The fund will allow a wide variety of investors, including pension funds, endowments, foundations, and other institutions new to investment in rural development. In some cases, projects may be funded entirely through the private sector; in others, private funds may be leveraged with government loan and grant programs. For more information, see the USDA's press release announcing the new fund.