Newhouse Throws Support Behind WIFIA Improvement Act

On Tuesday, Representative Dan Newhouse announced he was joining a bipartisan group of lawmakers looking to amend the 2014 WIFIA Act. The group said House Resolution 8217 would improve the six year old Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, allowing public water projects to be eligible for low interest, longer-term federal loans from the EPA.

“Federal water projects play a significant role in our way of life throughout Central Washington,” said Representative Newhouse. “In our region and across the West, our water infrastructure is aging and in need of repair or maintenance. By improving water managers’ and operators’ ability to finance long-term projects, we can better ensure long-term success for all who rely on this infrastructure for clean water and irrigation in rural communities.”

The WIFIA Improvement Act would allow water projects with longer useful lifecycles to receive federal WIFIA financing for 55-year loan terms instead of the current 35-year loan terms, thereby lowering the capital costs for such projects. Additionally, the legislation clarifies that WIFIA loans can be used for the repair, replacement, and rehabilitation of “transferred works” owned by the Bureau of Reclamation but maintained by local non-federal agencies, including several projects throughout the Yakima River Basin.

Newhouse joined Democrats John Garamendi, Josh Harder and TJ Cox, as well as Republican Doug LaMalfa all from California.

“The Kittitas Reclamation District water users here in the upper Yakima River Basin will benefit from this legislation,” said Urban Eberhart, General Manager for Kittitas Reclamation District. “The Bureau of Reclamation water infrastructure in our valley is aging and our water users are responsible for rehabilitating and replacing the aging water delivery facilities. This legislation will help by making longer term loans available to finance the improvements that will provide for consistent and adequate water supplies into the next century.”

“The Roza Irrigation District has prided itself on keeping our facilities well maintained, but as our water delivery infrastructure continues to age, we will be facing the need for even larger, more expensive extraordinary maintenance projects,” said Scott Revell, General Manager for Roza Irrigation District. “This legislation will improve the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan program to help affordably finance these major repairs to our irrigation infrastructure here in the lower Yakima River Basin. Our agriculture-based economy in the Yakima Valley will depend on the future investments we make to extend the useful life of our aging project facilities, and we applaud Representative Newhouse for cosponsoring this bipartisan legislation.”

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