Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) projects will be evaluated individually by the Administrator of EPA based on criteria in the rule and a previously issued Notice of Funds Available (NOFA). Once a project is selected for a loan individual credit agreements will be developed in negotiations between Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the project sponsor.
- A corporation;
- A partnership;
- A joint venture;
- A trust;
- A federal, state, or local governmental entity, agency, or instrumentality;
- A tribal government or consortium of tribal governments; or
- A state infrastructure financing authority.
Project Selection Criteria:
- The extent to which the project is nationally or regionally significant, with respect to the generation of economic and public health benefits;
- The likelihood that assistance under this subtitle would enable the project to proceed at an earlier date than the project would otherwise be able to proceed;
- The extent to which the project uses new or innovative approaches such as the use of energy efficient parts and systems, or the use of renewable or alternate sources of energy; green infrastructure; and the development of alternate sources of drinking water through aquifer recharge, water recycling or desalination;
- The extent to which the project protects against extreme weather events, such as floods or hurricanes, as well as the impacts of climate change;
- The extent to which the project helps maintain or protect the environment or public health;
- The extent to which a project serves regions with significant energy exploration, development, or production areas;
- The extent to which a project serves regions with significant water resource challenges, including the need to address water quality concerns in areas of regional, national, or international significance; water quantity concerns related to groundwater, surface water, or other resources; significant flood risk; water resource challenges identified in existing regional, state, or multistate agreements; and water resources with exceptional recreational value or ecological importance;
- The extent to which the project addresses identified municipal, state, or regional priorities;
- The readiness of the project to proceed toward development, including a demonstration by the obligor that there is a reasonable expectation that the contracting process for construction of the project can commence by not later than 90 days after the date on which a Federal credit instrument is obligated for the project under this subtitle;
- The extent to which the project financing plan includes public or private financing in addition to assistance under this subtitle;
- The extent to which assistance under this subtitle reduces the contribution of Federal assistance to the project;
- The extent to which the project addresses needs for repair, rehabilitation or replacement of a treatment works, community water system, or aging water distribution or wastewater collection system; and
- The extent to which the project serves economically stressed communities, or pockets of economically stressed rate payers within otherwise non-economically stressed communities.
- Projects eligible under the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Programs (SRFs); (Projects eligible for assistance under SRF that serve a community of not more than 25,000 individuals, eligible project costs must be no less than $5 million.)
- Projects for enhanced energy efficiency in the operation of a public water system or a publicly owned treatment works;
Projects for repair, rehabilitation, or replacement of a treatment works, community water system, or aging water distribution or waste collection facility (including a facility that serves a population or community of an Indian reservation);
- Brackish or sea water desalination projects;
- Managed aquifer recharge or water recycling projects;
- Acquisition of real property or an interest in real property if the acquisition is integral to an already eligible project or pursuant to an existing plan that, in the judgment of the Administrator, would mitigate the environmental impacts of water resources infrastructure projects otherwise eligible for assistance; and
- A combination of projects submitted to EPA by an SRF program under a single application; and
- A combination of projects secured by a common security pledge for which there is a single application.
EPA Prioritizes Projects:
- Adaptation to extreme weather and climate change including enhanced infrastructure resiliency, water recycling and reuse, and managed aquifer recovery;
- Enhanced energy efficiency of treatment works, public water systems, and conveyance systems, including innovative, energy efficient nutrient treatment;
- Green infrastructure; and
- Repair, rehabilitation, and replacement of infrastructure and conveyance systems.
American Iron & Steel Provisions:
Recipients of WIFIA credit assistance must comply, by statute at 33 U.S.C. 3914, with American Iron and Steel (AIS) requirements, which requires that if any WIFIA assistance is provided to a project for construction, alteration, maintenance, or repair, all of the iron and steel products used in the project must be produced in the United States. The language in the statute is identical to AIS language applicable to the SRF programs. This requirement applies to all iron and steel products, not only those paid for with proceeds from the WIFIA assistance agreement. A waiver may be issued for a case or category of cases where EPA finds
(1) that applying these requirements would be inconsistent with the public interest;
(2) iron and steel products are not produced in the U.S. in sufficient and reasonably available quantities and of a satisfactory quality; or
(3) inclusion of iron and steel products produced in the U.S. will increase the cost of the overall project by more than 25%.
The WIFIA program is adopting all AIS guidance applicable to the SRF programs. Due to the identical nature of the statutory language for each program, as well as the need for consistency between two infrastructure programs administered by EPA, this requirement should be applied to both programs in the same manner. Additionally, the WIFIA program will adopt all relevant national waivers issued by EPAs SRF programs. These waivers allow recipients to purchase certain products from non-American sources. The rationale for these waivers applies equally to both programs. AIS guidance and waivers can be found on EPA‘s Web site. EPA welcomes comment on the implementation of AIS requirements.
33 U.S. Code § 3914
(b) Definition of iron and steel products:
In this section, the term “iron and steel products” means the following products made primarily of iron or steel: lined or unlined pipes and fittings, manhole covers and other municipal castings, hydrants, tanks, flanges, pipe clamps and restraints, valves, structural steel, reinforced precast concrete, and construction materials.
Subsection (a) shall not apply in any case or category of cases in which the Administrator finds that—
(1) applying subsection (a) would be inconsistent with the public interest;
(2) iron and steel products are not produced in the United States in sufficient and reasonably available quantities and of a satisfactory quality; or
(3) inclusion of iron and steel products produced in the United States will increase the cost of the overall project by more than 25 percent.
If the Administrator receives a request for a waiver under this section, the Administrator shall make available to the public, on an informal basis, a copy of the request and information available to the Administrator concerning the request, and shall allow for informal public input on the request for at least 15 days prior to making a finding based on the request. The Administrator shall make the request and accompanying information available by electronic means, including on the official public Internet Web site of the Environmental Protection Agency.
This section shall be applied in a manner consistent with United States obligations under international agreements.
The statute requires recipients of WIFIA credit assistance to pay all laborers and mechanics employed by contractors or subcontractors wages at rates not less than those prevailing for the same type of work on similar construction in the immediate locality, as determined by the Secretary of Labor. This is commonly referred to as Davis-Bacon wage requirements. This requirement applies to all laborers and mechanics working on a project, not only those paid from proceeds of the WIFIA assistance agreement.