Congressman Jeff Denham introduced the New WATER Act Thursday in hopes of authorizing a pilot project that would provide long-term, low-cost financing for water resources infrastructure in reclamation states.
“The Central Valley desperately needs to build more infrastructure for water storage and delivery,” said Denham, who introduced the bill Thursday. “The New WATER Act would provide funding for projects that improve water delivery for residential, agriculture and municipal uses.”
Modeled after the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, which provides credit assistance to large-scale transportation projects of regional and national significance, and the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act pilot for the United States Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency, the New WATER Act will allow the United States Bureau of Reclamation to offer financing for eligible water infrastructure projects in reclamation states, such as California.
Funds under the New WATER Act would be available to finance the planning, design and construction of an eligible project as well as the acquisition of real property or an interest in real property if the acquisition is integral to an eligible project.
The new bill encourages private investment in systems that serve the public interest by providing low-interest, government-backed loans with a long repayment period. In order to be approved, projects must be capable of generating sustainable revenue streams, whether through user fees or other dedicated sources.
Among eligible projects are those that would contribute to a safe, adequate water supply, increase energy efficiency of existing water systems, accelerate repair or replacement of aging systems, develop desalination facilities or use real property for water storage.