Through high-level conversations with Trump Administration officials and Congress in recent weeks, NACWA is learning more about the infrastructure package under development by the White House and key congressional committees. While specific details of the package and timing for its release are still emerging (some reports suggest the White House proposal could come as early as this week), NACWA has confirmed that water infrastructure will be addressed in the overall package. This represents an important advocacy win for NACWA and its members.
The infrastructure plan appears to create a new pot of federal money – on top of existing legacy funding programs like the State Revolving Funds and the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program – that would be used to incentivize local utilities to develop new and innovative approaches to funding infrastructure investments. Guidelines for exactly what types of projects would be eligible for these funds are still being developed, but the Administration has expressed an interest in utility efforts to leverage private capital through public private partnerships, and work to move towards full cost accounting of utility services.
Officials have not publicly discussed the exact amount of federal money that will be included in the infrastructure package, but it appears to be in line with President Trump’s public calls for at least $200 billion. This amount will be further subdivided by infrastructure “asset class,” with a specific allocation for drinking water and clean water. These amounts are not yet known, but it seems likely that, given the recent public attention on drinking water from Flint, MI and elsewhere, the drinking water number may be higher than the clean water number.
NACWA’s participation in conversations over the emerging infrastructure proposal is a direct result of funding from the Association’s Targeted Action Fund (TAF). These types of high-level discussions – and the opportunity for NACWA to directly influence policy decisions – reflects the importance of continued TAF investment in advocacy efforts. NACWA will be discussing developments around the infrastructure package in more detail with its members, committees and Board of Directors at the upcoming Summer Conference in July.