Sept. 6, 2023
Water Finance Exchange (WFX) will begin developing a bond insurance enhancement program to provide communities greater access to the capital markets and traditional bank lending necessary to address their water and wastewater infrastructure needs, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).
“Many small, disadvantaged, and often rural communities are not able to use these financing arrangements because they have low credit ratings or are not rated at all,” said Rogelio Rodriguez, Director of the Texas Water Infrastructure Fund for WFX. “This results in limited to no access to capital and higher costs that make it increasingly more difficult to address water infrastructure needs in places of greatest need.”
“Water is essential to life, and communities that historically have been excluded from opportunity often do not have access to the financing mechanisms to create the strong water infrastructure needed for residents’ health and wellbeing,” said Kimberlee Cornett, Director of Impact Investments at RWJF. “Attracting investment can lead to more thriving communities and economies at the local level.”
Under the program, WFX would identify communities that are committed to good governance and have apt financial disclosures but lack the credit to address water and wastewater infrastructure needs. These communities have traditionally not been unable to access the larger public capital markets due to their small size or lack of technical capacity. By developing a not-for-profit credit enhancement program for these communities and their projects, WFX hopes to attract investment into these communities while maximizing the benefits to equity and affordability. As the bond insurer for these communities, WFX will also support technical assistance for the underlying water and wastewater infrastructure securing the investment.
“In our work nationally, we have seen firsthand the unique challenges facing small and underserved communities,” said Hank Habicht, Co-Founder of WFX. “Support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has allowed us to address some of these challenges, and the bond insurance enhancement program has the potential to be among our most impactful and innovative efforts in coming years.”
Through support from RWJF and in partnership with Summit LLC, JLL Clean Energy and Advisory, and respected industry experts, WFX will begin developing the program and identifying communities that are well positioned to participate. WFX anticipate the program to be active in 2024.
Water Finance Exchange (WFX) is a 501(c)(3) non- profit comprised of experienced water and finance professionals who work closely with communities to address head-on their water infrastructure funding needs and opportunities. Our mission is to help communities build sustainable and resilient utilities that are the foundation of economic growth and prosperity.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) is committed to improving health and health equity in the United States. In partnership with others, we are working to develop a Culture of Health rooted in equity that provides every individual with a fair and just opportunity to thrive, no matter who they are, where they live, or how much money they have. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org.