Groups to ‘Wait and See’ on Trump’s Funding Pledge for Water Infrastructure

Will the Republican-led Congress back President-elect Donald Trump’s proposal to triple funding for drinking water and clean water state revolving fund programs?

Trump has repeatedly pledged to invest in infrastructure, which he sees as “a golden opportunity” to energize the U.S. economy, which he said is “doing very bad.”

The state revolving fund programs for drinking water and clean water provide a combination of low-interest loans and grants to municipalities to upgrade, replace or rehabilitate infrastructure projects to provide clean and safe water.

Flint water tower 22

The last time these funds were tripled was in February 2009 when the Democrat-controlled Congress enacted the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that the newly inaugurated President Barack Obama signed into law. That bill added $4 billion to the base funding of $689 million for the clean water state revolving fund and $2 billion to the drinking water state revolving fund (as the graphic below shows.).

Water Infrastructure Chart Amena

That was then. This is now. And Trump’s infrastructure proposal may not have the same backing from the GOP as Obama. That’s because Sen. Mitch McConnell did not embrace the trillion dollar proposal in a news conference he gave Dec. 12 before leaving town for the holidays. (His comments fall around the 19:09 and 20:31 mark)

The bottom line is water and wastewater infrastructure is crumbling. There are many communities across the U.S. like Flint, Mich., which is dealing with lead contamination in its drinking water, that can’t afford to replace lead drinking water pipes.

new capitol hill 2 night

National water and wastewater groups anxiously await the start of the 115th Congress to see whether the Republican leaders will indeed support a proposal floated by one of their own.

“There is a chance we will some increase, but not sure whether it will match what Trump has proposed,” Claudio Ternieden, government affairs director for the Water Environment Federation, told Bloomberg BNA.  “We will have to wait and see.”

You can read my whole story on the issue at Trump’s Pitch for Water Infrastructure Funds Leaves Groups Cautious.