Livermore Mayor John Marchand represented the Tri-Valley at a meeting earlier this month with Congressional representatives in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the American Water Works Association (AWWA) to discuss issues affecting water quality and infrastructure.
Marchand, a water chemist, was part of a California "Fly-In" delegation of water professionals from around the country that visited 40 Congressional offices over two days to discuss timely drought-related topics.
The delegation also discussed the "Water Infrastructure Financing and Innovation Act ( WIFIA) ," which reduces construction costs for local water projects. Other water-related concerns included research on algal toxins, chemical spill response and cybersecurity.
"Cybersecurity is particularly important for the Tri-Valley since much of the nation's cybersecurity work occurs here at Sandia and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories," Marchand said.
Enacted in 2014 as part of the Water Resources and Reform Development Act, WIFIA provides low-interest federal loans for up to 49% of large drinking water, wastewater and water reuse projects. However, as written, the law prohibits tax-exempt bonds from funding the remaining 51%, taking away the most cost-effective tool for communities that seek WIFIA loans.
That ban was discussed by the "Fly-In" delegation, which argued that if the ban were repealed, utilities would likely use lower-cost tax-exempt debt for the non-WIFIA share of project costs, lowering the overall cost of using the WIFIA program. As a result, WIFIA would be a cost-effective option for the much broader range of utilities it was intended to serve.