An Environmental Protection Agency Notice of Funding Availability invites letters of interest from states and municipalities seeking credit assistance under the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA), whose funding doubled from the prior year as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018.
“This funding will spark new investments to repair crumbling water infrastructure,” says EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “EPA will play a key role in the President’s infrastructure efforts by incentivizing states, municipalities, and public-private partnerships to protect public health, fix local infrastructure problems, create jobs, and provide clean water to communities.”
Leveraging private capital and other funding sources, the agency notes, WIFIA-backed projects could support $11 billion in water infrastructure investment and create 170,000-plus jobs. This year’s Notice of Funding Availability highlights the importance of protecting public health, including reducing exposure to lead and other drinking water systems contaminants and updating the nation’s aging infrastructure.
“An investment in water infrastructure is an investment in our communities,” notes EPA Office of Wastewater Management Director Dr. Andrew Sawyers. “The WIFIA program helps improve water quality and protect public health while supporting the local economy.”
The WIFIA program will play an important part in making vital improvements to the nation’s water infrastructure and implementing the President’s Infrastructure Plan, which calls for increasing the program’s funding authorization and expanding project eligibility. Established by the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 2014, the WIFIA program positions EPA to accelerate investment in the nation’s water infrastructure by providing long-term, low-cost supplemental loans for regionally and nationally significant projects. WIFIA credit assistance can be used for a wide range of projects, including: Drinking water treatment and distribution; Wastewater conveyance and treatment; Enhanced energy efficiency at drinking water and wastewater facilities; Desalination, aquifer recharge, alternative water supply, and water recycling; and Drought prevention, reduction, or mitigation.
MASON’S BACK WAGE CASE NEARS $500K
After a Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division investigation, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee has ordered Music City Masonry Contractors LLC and its owners, Brandy George and Robin “Bubba” Waller, to pay $494,000 in back wages and liquidated damages to 247 employees for violating the overtime and recordkeeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The order is part of a settlement in which the Wage and Hour Division assessed a $10,000 civil penalty for willful and repeat violations.
Investigators found the contracting company paid employees straight-time rates for their overtime hours instead of the time-and-one-half required by law. Music City Masonry falsified time and payroll records to make it appear it was paying the proper overtime, and failed to maintain accurate records of the hours employees worked, resulting in recordkeeping violations.
“The resolution of this investigation ensures these employees receive their rightfully earned wages,” said Nettie Lewis, Wage and Hour Division District director in Nashville. “No employer should gain a competitive advantage by failing to pay its employees in compliance with the law.”