States and the federal government invest in water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure by providing subsidized loans and other financial assistance through State Revolving Fund (SRF) programs. The funds are capitalized with federal grants, state contributions, leveraged bonds, and loan repayments. Because the programs largely provide loans rather than grants, the repayment of principal and interest replenishes the pool of capital to finance infrastructure over time. Loan repayments are now the largest source of capital for SRFs. The amount of assistance available through the SRFs will increase substantially as state programs receive $55 billion in new funds through the bipartisan infrastructure law over the next five years.
The increase in available funding—from both federal appropriations and loan repayments—makes it more important than ever for states to efficiently commit funds to finance projects. Uncommitted funds represent missed opportunities to improve public health and water quality, spur economic development, and create jobs through infrastructure investment. As federal funds flow to states faster, it is imperative to understand how states can efficiently allocate funds to reach their full potential. The authors of this report analyzed data from the EPA, interviewed stakeholders, and conducted a survey of over 200 water system decision makers and 30 state SRF administrators to better understand what is driving uncommitted SRF funds.
The report offers three main recommendations to help states allocate funds, described fully in the report:
- Set and track goals for the allocation of funds.
- Stimulate demand for funds.
- Enhance effective administrative practices.