Local water agencies got good news when Congress added $10 million to the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loan program in the recently enacted omnibus spending bill. The funding boost in the bill, which President Trump signed May 5, gives WIFIA a total of $30 million in direct fiscal 2017 funding. That could help finance $2 billion to $5 billion in infrastructure projects.

The Environmental Protection Agency, which manages WIFIA, said on May 2 it had received 43 letters of interest in the loan program. EPA said the original $20 million would parlay into $1 billion in loans and other credit assistance. Because WIFIA aid can account for only up to 49% of a project’s cost, the 51% in non-WIFIA funding should bring projects’ total to $2 billion. The spending bill’s increase could raise the total even higher. The 43 applications requested more than $6 billion in WIFIA assistance.

EPA expects to complete an initial review by early July. WIFIA aid can be used for a wide range of projects, including drinking water, wastewater treatment and desalination.