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Jacobs and WIFIA: Reinventing Water Infrastructure Financing

Jacobs is uniquely positioned to improve your likelihood of securing WIFIA funding for major water infrastructure projects.

The Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) of 2014 created a new means of financing for large water infrastructure projects. During the years since, Jacobs has developed a record of competitive and successful loan applications, assisting numerous clients through the WIFIA loan process, providing industry-leading guidance and expertise in understanding WIFIA eligibility, benefits and processes – and achieving an impressive 100% success rate to date.

In July, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it has approximately $6 billion in credit that could finance over $12 billion in water infrastructure projects through the WIFIA program for Fiscal Year 2020. $5 billion is available through the WIFIA program and $1 billion is available through EPA's new SWIFIA program, for which only state-level water infrastructure authorities are eligible.

To tap into this WIFIA funding opportunity, interested water and wastewater providers will need to submit a letter of interest by October 15, 2020. And, we’re ready to help!

Background

In 2014, the U.S. government passed legislation that created WIFIA, a federal funding source for water infrastructure projects. WIFIA provides direct loans to large water infrastructure projects at U.S. Treasury rates – lowering capital costs and improving water affordability. To date, WIFIA borrowers have received interest rates between 0.83% and 3.36%, with current rates in the range of 1.5%. This difference in interest rates creates notable savings. According to the EPA “a total $100 million debt financing, financing with a sculpted 49% WIFIA loan can result in approximate savings equal to 26.8% of the financing amount (~$26.8 million).”

WIFIA’s focus is to address water issues associated with old and failing infrastructure, strengthening water service for all, but especially in communities experiencing economic and weather-related stress.

The benefits of WIFIA go beyond very low interest rates. Unlike traditional financing sources, WIFIA provides a flexible repayment schedule, capitalized interest, delayed repayment (up to 10 years) and the ability to preserve a borrower’s senior debt capacity. Although State Revolving Funds (SRFs) and WIFIA both provide low-cost funding for infrastructure, WIFIA uniquely fills a need for low-cost financing for larger projects, typically over $100 million. State Revolving Fund loans are generally designed to benefit smaller projects. Additionally, WIFIA loans can be combined with other funding sources including private equity, revenue bonds, corporate debt, grants and SRF loans.

Our WIFIA Experience

Jacobs has been helping clients bring together all the components for a successful WIFIA application since its introduction. While the process of obtaining a WIFIA loan has proven to be rather competitive, Jacobs has demonstrated success across a range of projects assisting clients with obtaining WIFIA funding for more than $1.5 billion in projects since 2017. We’ve helped clients across the United States, from San Mateo County, California, to North Miami Beach, Florida, and everywhere in between saving well over $100 million in financing costs for clients. In Florida, the WIFIA funds were earmarked for NMB Water’s Regional Potable Water Improvements project—a four-phased expansion to improve overall reliability of the water supply, treatment and distribution systems.  

In San Mateo, the funding is supporting the City’sClean Water Program, a comprehensive plan to implement $1 billion in upgrades to the aging wastewater collection and treatment system, and provide reliable services for years to come. WIFIA financing  will be used to upgrade San Mateo’s wastewater collection and treatment system in response to a Cease and Desist Order (CDO) from the State of California. The CDO mandates a sewer system upgrade to eliminate sewer overflows from entering the San Francisco Bay. In addition, the project will meet future regulatory requirements for nutrients and provide water reuse opportunities.

From water and wastewater treatment to collection and distribution system rehabilitation, Jacobs consistently performs as a leader in obtaining WIFIA financing having had a 100% client success rate with WIFIA loans to date. According to the EPA, our applications on behalf of our clients require significantly less due diligence than the typical WIFIA application, reducing overall transaction costs and bringing our clients additional savings.

What Jacobs Can Do for You

The EPA developed the WIFIA loan program to offer increased flexibility compared to predecessor infrastructure funding programs. In the process, the EPA has reinvented infrastructure financing by enabling larger projects, allowing WIFIA to serve as a primary source of financing, and accommodating a wide range of credit quality and capacity. Additionally, WIFIA has a deferred repayment feature, which promotes economic recovery through infrastructure development without burdening communities during the current economic downturn.

We provide clients complete open-to-close technical and financial support throughout the WIFIA loan process. Often applicants must piecemeal separate management, engineering, legal and financial consultants to complete the WIFIA loan application process. Jacobs’ team of WIFIA consultants coordinates all aspects of the loan process with technical, environmental, financial and engineering staff — all benefiting from ongoing relationships and involvement with EPA. Additionally, our WIFIA consultants are linked to our government relations support team in Washington, D.C., allowing for increased visibility and understanding of evolving Federal requirements. With our deep WIFIA expertise and cross-discipline accessibility, Jacobs is uniquely positioned to improve your project’s chances of securing WIFIA funding.   

For more on ourcapital, financial and transaction advisory services and other strategic consulting offerings, visit jacobs.com.

Bio: Dennis Jackson is passionate about shaping innovative infrastructure policy and delivery approaches. As a Jacobs’ Strategic Consulting Business & Finance Leader, he’s responsible for evaluating and recommending urban infrastructure funding approaches for stand-alone projects and large programs around the globe. Whether providing value-added insight or developing competitive funding applications, he works to unlock efficiency, certainty and cost savings for a wide range of critical infrastructure programs set to transform communities for tomorrow.

References

United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2020). Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA). Retrieved from: https://www.epa.gov/wifia

Treasury Direct. (2020) SLGS Daily Rate Table for use on June 18, 2020. Retrieved from: https://www.treasurydirect.gov/GA-SL/SLGS/selectSLGSDate.htm

Congressional Research Service. (2019). Water Infrastructure Financing: The Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) Program. Retrieved from: https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/R/R43315