Underground Investment Increases Coming From Washington, D.C.

A bipartisan, bicameral proposal to increase investments into our water infrastructure has passed both chambers in Congress and now heads to the President’s desk, where he is expected to give his signature of approval.  The Senate recently passed 99-1 the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 with the same language as the House version that passed in September.

The overall impact of the legislation is huge, and it includes an authorization of the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) at $1.174B for FY19, $1.3B for FY20 and $1.95B for FY21, effectively doubling the funding available to State Revolving Fund programs, which many communities utilize to update their drinking water infrastructure.  With Michigan having an $800 million annual gap in water and sewer infrastructure needs compiled from decades of deferred maintenance and a lack of knowledge on the conditions of water related assets, this increase in investment from the feds is much needed.

Specifically, the new Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) will also expand water storage capabilities, assist local communities in complying with the Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Water Act by upgrading aging drinking water, wastewater and irrigation systems, ensure that the country maintains the competitiveness of our coastal and inland ports, and maintain the navigability of our inland waterways, amongst other infrastructure priorities.  One major project announced that impacts Michigan is the authorization of $922 million for Soo Locks modernization.

As the 21st Century Infrastructure Commission report suggests, Michigan needs an additional $4 billion in annual investments across all infrastructure in the state, $800 million of which is in underground water and sewer needs.  When that report came out, the stakeholders understood that revenue increases of that magnitude were not going to happen overnight and certainly could not come from one single source.  In order for Michigan to solve its infrastructure investment shortfall, revenues will have to come from local, state and federal dollars.  This increase in federal dollars is a good step in the right direction.

MITA will continue to update members on any developments regarding this new authorization or any state developments on a new statewide water fee that the Governor and Legislature are considering before the end of the year.  If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact Mike Nystrom, Executive Vice President, at mikenystrom@thinkmita.org, or Lance Binoniemi, Vice President of Government Affairs, at lancebinoniemi@thinkmita.org.  They both can be reached at 517-347-8336.