WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-Md.) have announced $144 million in federal funding for the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority. The loan will be used to make extensive repairs and upgrades to the District’s aging water infrastructure, which also services Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties. Funds for the project come from the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 2014 (WIFIA), which established the federal loan and guarantee program under the purview of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The WIFIA program aims to accelerate investment in the nation’s water infrastructure by providing long-term, low-cost supplemental assistance for regionally and nationally significant water projects.
As a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Senator Cardin helped created WIFIA in 2014 and worked to ensure the program was permanently reauthorized in this year’s WRDA. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee with jurisdiction over WIFIA, Senator Van Hollen secured $55 million in funding for the program in Fiscal Year 2018, an increase of $30 million, and the same investment in this year’s Senate-passed legislation.
“These funds are a win for Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties’ families, who deserve reliable, affordable water. Our systems are aging and cannot withstand the demands being placed upon them. Investing in our crumbling water and wastewater infrastructure is the right thing to do for public health, the right thing to do for the health of the Chesapeake Bay, and an important source for new, local jobs,” said Senator Ben Cardin, a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “I’m proud to see WIFIA, a program I helped create, being put to such good use, and prouder still to see it being used to serve the people of Maryland.”
“Maryland’s success depends on modernizing our infrastructure – and our water systems in particular are central to the health of families in our state. This funding will improve water quality, better protect our environment and the Bay, and boost jobs and the economy in our community,” said Senator Van Hollen, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “I will keep fighting to secure future investments in infrastructure projects across our state.”
According to the EPA’s estimate of national drinking water and wastewater needs, over $743 billion is needed for water infrastructure improvements. The EPA’s WIFIA program plays an important part in fulfilling this need, with this year’s loans totaling approximately $5 billion, helping to finance over $10 billion in water infrastructure investments and create as many as 155,000 jobs.