Senate unanimously approves Honeyford bill to spur economic growth by providing water infrastructure loans

On Monday evening the Senate unanimously passed a measure by Sen. Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside, that would allow money earmarked for water-pollution control to be loaned to public industrial wastewater-treatment facilities. Honeyford called the measure a win for communities that have development projects languishing due to the inability to finance sufficient water infrastructure.

“This bill is about reducing the burden on our municipal wastewater facilities,” said Honeyford. “Without access to affordable and effective wastewater treatment, communities are hard-pressed to support the growth of activities such as agricultural processing.

“My bill would give our local governments access to the water-infrastructure funding they need to promote economic growth and prosperity.”

Approved 47-0, Senate Bill 6367 would permit loans to be used for:

  • construction or replacement of water pollution control facilities;
  • implementation of managing nonpoint sources of pollution; and
  • development and implementation of a conservation and management plan to protect and restore water quality of an estuary.

The account behind the loans is funded by grants provided by the federal government under the Clean Water Act, state matching funds, repayment of loans, interest, and other fees paid in administration of the fund. Loans are made at or below market-interest rates and at terms that cannot exceed 30 years of the projected useful life of the facility.

“The idea for this legislation was brought to me some time ago, but didn’t move,” said Honeyford. “During that time we saw communities that had development projects delayed five years or more, simply because they could not finance the needed infrastructure.

“By providing access to this funding, local governments will gain the ability to make the most of economic-development opportunities, while at the same time providing our agricultural community the ability to affordably expand water treatment capacity for agricultural processing.

“This bill does a lot of good in a lot of areas.”

SB 6367 now goes to the House of Representatives for its consideration.