Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA)

Funder Name or Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
Elligible Entities: Tribal Governments, State Agency, Local Government and Utility Districts, Business or Corporation, Partnership
Deadline: July 5, 2019
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The WIFIA program accelerates investment in our nation’s water infrastructure by providing long-term, low-cost supplemental loans for regionally and nationally significant projects.

The Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 2014 (WIFIA) established the WIFIA program, a federal credit program administered by EPA for eligible water and wastewater infrastructure projects. WIFIA and the WIFIA implementation rule outline the eligibility and other requirements for prospective borrowers.

Eligibility

Eligible borrowers are:

  • Local, state, tribal, and federal government entities
  • Partnerships and joint ventures
  • Corporations and trusts
  • Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) programs

The WIFIA program can fund development and implementation activities for eligible projects:

  • Projects that are eligible for the Clean Water SRF, notwithstanding the public ownership clause
  • Projects that are eligible for the Drinking Water SRF
  • Enhanced energy efficiency projects at drinking water and wastewater facilities
  • Brackish or seawater desalination, aquifer recharge, alternative water supply, and water recycling projects
  • Drought prevention, reduction, or mitigation projects
  • Acquisition of property if it is integral to the project or will mitigate the environmental impact of a project
  • A combination of projects secured by a common security pledge or submitted under one application by an SRF program

Eligible development and implementation activities are:

  • Development phase activities, including planning, preliminary engineering, design, environmental review, revenue forecasting, and other pre-construction activities
  • Construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, and replacement activities
  • Acquisition of real property or an interest in real property, environmental mitigation, construction contingencies, and acquisition of equipment
  • Capitalized interest necessary to meet market requirements, reasonably required reserve funds, capital issuance expenses and other carrying costs during construction

Important Program Features

  • $20 million: Minimum project size for large communities.
  • $5 million: Minimum project size for small communities (population of 25,000 or less).
  • 49%: Maximum portion of eligible project costs that WIFIA can fund.
  • Total federal assistance may not exceed 80% of a project’s eligible costs.
  • 35 years: Maximum final maturity date from substantial completion.
  • 5 years: Maximum time that repayment may be deferred after substantial completion of the project.
  • Interest rate will be equal to or greater than the U.S. Treasury rate of a similar maturityat the date of closing.
  • Projects must be creditworthy and have a dedicated source of revenue.
  • NEPADavis-BaconAmerican Iron and Steel, and all other federal cross-cutter provisions apply.

The WIFIA application process is two phases:

Phase 1: Project Selection: EPA announces the amount of funding it will have available and solicits letters of interest from prospective borrowers. In their letters of interest, prospective borrowers demonstrate their project’s eligibility, creditworthiness, engineering feasibility, readiness to proceed, and alignment with EPA’s policy priorities. Based on this information, EPA selects projects which it intends to fund and invites the prospective borrowers to continue to the application process.

Phase 2: Project Review, Negotiation, and Closing: Each invitee must apply for its WIFIA loan. The WIFIA program conducts a detailed financial and engineering review of the project. Based on that review, the WIFIA program proposes terms and conditions for the project and negotiates them with the applicant until they develop a mutually agreeable term sheet and loan agreement. Prior to closing, the WIFIA program must receive approval from the Administrator or his designee and the Office of Management and Budget. At closing, the prospective borrower executes the credit agreement, which is the binding legal document that allows the borrower to receive WIFIA funds.

For more details on the application process, see the WIFIA Program Handbook.