In response to the threat of a federal government shutdown, Congress passed a massive $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill which was signed by President Trump on March 23. The spending measure will fund the federal government to Sept. 30, 2018, and increases military and domestic spending for federal fiscal year 2018.

Of interest to Jersey Water Works members, the omnibus bill includes $21.2 billion for infrastructure spending. Water-related infrastructure spending identified in the measure includes the following:

  • $2.97 billion for U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s water infrastructure programs, including $2.857 billion for the Clean Water and Drinking Water revolving funds, which are provided directly to the states for water and wastewater infrastructure projects. This is an increase of $600 million above fiscal year 2017.
  • The bill supports an estimated $6 billion in new lending under the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program by utilizing $63 million in appropriations to finance more than 100 times that amount to accelerate investments in water projects with national and regional significance.
  • Funding for new water programs authorized in the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIN) Act, to support testing for lead contamination in schools and child care centers ($20 million), lead reduction projects in rural areas ($20 million), and water projects in communities working to improve compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act ($10 million).

Other federal infrastructure programs received additional spending in fiscal year 2018. The Highway Trust Fund program will receive an additional $3.49 billion and be funded at $44.23 billion, the Airport Improvement Program will receive an additional $1 billion and U.S. DOT’S TIGER grant program will be funded at $1.5 billion, a $1 billion increase.

The direction of federal spending is positive but there is much more work to be done. By the end of 2018, the Water Resource Development Act (WRDA), a biennial piece of legislation that is the main vehicle for authorizing water projects to be studied, planned and developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is likely to be reauthorized (perhaps with additional spending), the State Revolving Fund WIN bill will proceed and the EPA will close on its first WIFIA loan.

If any of these matters interest you, please feel free to reach out to Dan Kennedy, JWW Steering Committee Member and Director of Environmental and Utility Operations at the Utility & Transportation Contractors Association of New Jersey (UTCA). As a JWW’s partner, the UTCA is providing this information as a service to our partners.

A version of this report originally appeared in the Clean Water Construction Coalition’s (CWCC) March 2018 report. The CWCC is a national organization of over 25 state utility contractor associations lead by UTCA. Its core mission is to utilize its combined resources to promote federal legislation that improves water infrastructure nationally with a heavy focus on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s State Revolving Fund Programs.

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