Washington, DC – Today, Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley introduced the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA). This bill would create jobs and help local communities upgrade or replace aging and damaged water and sewer systems.  Low cost financing would save homeowners and businesses money and spur construction jobs as repairs and new projects are accelerated. 

“Getting Oregonians back to work while also helping our local communities afford to fix old and crumbling water pipes is a win-win situation,” said Merkley. “This is also a matter of safety. We must make sure that our aging infrastructure does not compromise access to clean and safe drinking water for families across our state. Making needed investments in our infrastructure is crucial to the future of our economy and the health of our communities.”

WIFIA is modeled after the successful Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Authority (TIFIA). WIFIA would create a financial mechanism within the EPA to provide access to lower-cost capital for investments in water infrastructure.   The legislation offers a proven, modern, and effective way to help increase investment in our infrastructure while reducing cost to local governments and ratepayers.

In virtually every county in Oregon, communities are facing immediate issues in their water supply and water treatment systems. In some cases it is a matter of repairing and replacing aging infrastructure. In other ones it is about meeting modern drinking water and waste treatment standards. In yet other cases it is about expanding capacity to provide for growing communities and industrial capacity. The American Society of Civil Engineers has estimated that a lack of investment in water infrastructure now will significantly drive up costs later, with the gap between America’s yearly actual investment and the “needed” investment rising by $90 billion by 2040.