White House Recognizes Need To Invest in Water Infrastructure

On Feb. 12, President Trump released his 55-page outline for legislation to establish several new infrastructure funding programs, streamline the regulatory review process for projects, improve workforce development programs, and set other federal infrastructure priorities.

The “Legislative Outline for Rebuilding Infrastructure in America” describes

  • a new, $50 billion program to promote investments in various forms of infrastructure including drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater;
  • a new, $20 billion financial assistance program administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce for infrastructure-related projects;
  • $20 billion for expanding several existing federal infrastructure-financing programs such as the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA);
  • proposals to open the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to allow private entities to receive loans through the program;
  • reductions in the level of federal regulatory review for a project when a state or private entity provides the majority of project funding; and
  • amendments to the Clean Water Act to ensure privately owned treatment works have regulatory requirements identical to those for publicly owned treatment works.

The Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) would like potential infrastructure initiatives to

  • expand meaningful assistance to states and local governments;
  • build resilient water infrastructure;
  • facilitate innovation in the water sector; and
  • promote workforce development through training, internships, apprenticeships, and career-pathway programs.

“We are at a pivotal time, with aging and inadequate water infrastructure in desperate need of repair and expansion to meet the challenges and seize the opportunities for water in the 21st century,” said Eileen O’Neill, executive director of WEF. “We look forward to working with the administration and Congress on a legislative package that addresses our nation’s pressing and long-term water infrastructure needs.”

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate also are developing their own infrastructure plans. WEF encourages its members to write to Congressional representatives to urge them to include funding for clean water, drinking water, and stormwater infrastructure in any related future legislation.

Closing the gap between needed and appropriated water infrastructure investments would generate more than $220 billion in annual economic activity and generate 1.3 million jobs over 10 years, according to the report “The Economic Benefits of Investing in Water Infrastructure.”

Infrastructure funding will be a key topic for a discussion during the 2018 National Water Policy Fly-In, April 17–18 in Washington, D.C., during Water Week 2018. Attending WEF members will have an opportunity to talk to their members of Congress about these topics.

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