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EPA and Bureau of Reclamation Advance Federal Cooperation on Funding for Water Supply and Reuse Projects

11/06/2019
Contact Information: 
EPA Press Office (press@epa.gov)

WASHINGTON (Nov. 6, 2019) ⁠— Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that advances federal collaboration on funding for water supply and water reuse projects nationwide. Consistent with the Administration’s commitment to infrastructure resiliency, the agencies are collaborating on approaches to effectively and efficiently help ensure that all Americans have access to sustainable supplies of clean water by leveraging the core expertise of each agency.

“With 80 percent of U.S. states anticipating some freshwater shortages in the next decade, diversifying our country’s water portfolio is a nationwide priority,” said EPA Assistant Administrator David Ross. “Our new MOU with Reclamation will accelerate federal cooperation and support for water supply reliability and water reuse projects to help address this challenge.”

“We owe it to the next generation to make the investments necessary to ensure reliable water supplies,” said Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman. “This partnership will help water managers make those investments; the new MOU gives Reclamation and EPA the structure to collaborate together on important water infrastructure projects.”

“Building and rehabilitating water infrastructure in the west is critical to providing the drought resilience our farms and communities need. This agreement between Reclamation and the EPA is an important step toward providing a much needed financing tool that will allow water managers to solve the unique challenges they face in a cost effective manner. I will continue to work in the Senate to pass legislation that ensures Arizona and the west’s water supply is sustainable for the future,” said U.S. Senator Martha McSally (R-AZ). 

“Encouraging local water agencies to invest in more water recycling and storage projects is critical to improving our drought resiliency. That’s why we pushed to create these new loans in last year’s water bill. By signing the MOU, low-cost Treasury loans will soon be available for water agencies to use to improve their infrastructure for significantly less, reducing costs for water projects by as much as 25 percent,” said U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA).

“I have spent my career in Congress working to ensure secure and abundant water supplies for Californians,” said U.S. Representative Ken Calvert (CA-42). “Today’s MOU between the EPA and Bureau of Reclamation seeks to prioritize and expand federal financing options to water recycling and desalination projects. These projects stretch existing water supplies and create secure local supplies of drinking water in regions like southern California where high-quality, local surface water is less available. I applaud Commissioner Burman and Assistant Administrator Ross for their proactive efforts to enhance water security for all Americans.”

“Water supply reliability is a big challenge for many areas throughout the Western U.S. – especially in California, where misguided policies from Sacramento waste countless gallons of water per year. This MOU allows EPA and BOR to effectively work together in order to accomplish their shared goal of improving our nation’s long-term water supply by investing in local projects from water storage to wastewater recycling. I applaud the efforts by this Administration to streamline the federal processes for improving our nation’s water infrastructure,” said U.S. Representative Doug LaMalfa (CA-01).

“This critical agreement between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Bureau of Reclamation unlocks low-interest federal financing for municipal water supply, recycling, and irrigation projects in California’s Central Valley and across the American West. I worked on a bipartisan basis with other members of Congress from the California delegation and western states to get this enacted into law last year. With the agreement now finalized, the EPA and Bureau of Reclamation can now start financing water supply projects to meet California’s future needs and those of other growing western states,” said U.S. Representative John Garamendi (CA-03).

“Last Congress, the America’s Water Infrastructure Act was signed into law. This legislation contained language of a bill I co-introduced, the New WATER Act, to help localities and non-federal entities improve and update water storage and recycling projects,” said U.S. Representative Dan Newhouse (WA-04). “As this critical law continues to be implemented, this partnership between EPA and the Bureau of Reclamation will ensure communities in Central Washington and across the West have access to the clean water and strong water infrastructure we rely on.”

“Cities and communities across the country depend on reliable water supplies, which is why this MOU is so important. As Ranking Member on the House Water Resources Subcommittee, I’m grateful for EPA’s commitment to expanding and supplementing water recycling projects, and look forward to future hearings on this issue, said U.S. Representative Bruce Westerman (AR-04).

“Every community, farm, and business in this nation relies on access to a safe, affordable and reliable supply of water,” said National Water Resources Association President Cheryl Zittle. “We are grateful to Reclamation and the EPA for signing this important MOU. These efforts will help provide resources that are needed for developing and improving water infrastructure for this and future generations.”

“Irrigated farms and ranches in the West have always depended on long-term investments in water supply infrastructure,” said Family Farm Alliance Executive Director Dan Keppen. “The WIFIA program can provide the longer repayment and lower interest terms necessary to allow for new investments in the water supply facilities crucial to meet the challenges of tomorrow. We are pleased to see this formal commitment by the agencies to work together to implement WIFIA in a way that can assist in providing new capital for important water projects in the West.”

By signing this MOU, the agencies are committing to work together to implement existing water infrastructure financing programs, specifically EPA’s Water Infrastructure Financing and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program and Reclamation’s Title XVI and Desalination programs.

Reclamation will look for opportunities to leverage funding provided by WIFIA with existing Reclamation funding programs to better support the country’s water reuse and recycling projects. EPA and Reclamation also commit to identifying other opportunities to leverage the resources of both agencies to help make each Federal dollar go further.

The MOU is effective immediately and will remain in effect for five years. The MOU meets the statutory requirements section 4301 of America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018.

To read the MOU and for more information about EPA’s WIFIA program, visit https://www.epa.gov/wifia.

Learn more about the Bureau of Reclamation at https://www.usbr.gov/watersmart/weeg/index.html.

Background

Established by the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 2014, the WIFIA program is a federal loan and guarantee program administered by EPA. WIFIA’s aim is to accelerate investment in the nation’s water infrastructure by providing long-term and low-cost supplemental credit assistance for regionally and nationally significant projects. EPA’s WIFIA program plays an important part in President Trump’s infrastructure plan, which calls for expanding project eligibility. The WIFIA program has an active pipeline of pending applications for projects that will result in billions of dollars in water infrastructure investment and thousands of jobs. To date, EPA has issued 14 WIFIA loans totaling more than $3.5 billion in credit assistance to help finance more than $8 billion for water infrastructure projects while creating more than 15,000 jobs.

Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier in the United States and the nation's second largest producer of hydroelectric power. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control and benefits to recreation as well as and fish and wildlife. Title XVI of P.L. 102-575, as amended (Title XVI), provides authority for Reclamation’s water recycling and reuse program, titled “Title XVI.” Through the Title XVI program, Reclamation identifies and investigates opportunities to reclaim and reuse wastewaters and impaired ground and surface water in the 17 Western States and Hawaii. Title XVI includes funding for the planning, design, and construction of water recycling and reuse projects in partnership with local government entities. In 2018, an estimated 431,000 acre-feet of water was recycled through Title XVI projects.