Volume 16, Issue 7
Innovative Financing Programs Support Water Infrastructure Investment on Both Sides of the Border
Faced with enormous water infrastructure investment needs and limited financial resources, the U.S. and Canadian governments in recent years have each launched new programs aimed at leveraging private investment and reducing project capital costs. Those initiatives are bearing fruit and helping communities on both sides of the border address the project backlog.
Canada Infrastructure Bank Announces First Water Infrastructure Project
The Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) announced July 15 that it will invest up to $20 million in a water and wastewater project in the southern Ontario county of Wellington, where the Township of Mapleton is seeking a consortium to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the municipality’s new and existing water and wastewater infrastructure. The project is the first water infrastructure initiative supported by the CIB, which was established in June 2017.
As part of the project, Mapleton intends to improve its water system by building a new water tower and upgrading an existing water pumping station. The funds will also support a related wastewater treatment project and a gravity sanitary collection system.
The CIB said Mapleton’s “innovative approach” is an example of a new model for structuring and financing smaller municipal water and wastewater infrastructure projects. The CIB investment will reduce project financing costs and help attract private capital expertise.
“The Government of Canada created the CIB to play a leading role in new infrastructure projects that will benefit communities, François-Philippe Champagne, Canada’s minister of infrastructure and communities said. “The financing support and infrastructure expertise provided by the CIB to the Township of Mapleton’s project will ensure long-term access to sustainable public water and wastewater facilities. This is an opportunity to create a new model that could improve publicly-owned water and wastewater systems, including in smaller communities across Canada.”
EPA Receives 51 Requests for Third Round of WIFIA Funding
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced July 19 that it had received 51 letters of interest, collectively requesting $6.6 billion in Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) funding. Reflecting the enormous water infrastructure investment needs around the country, the requests exceed the $6 billion that EPA has available for project financing this year.
Established by the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 2014, the WIFIA program is an EPA-administered federal loan and guarantee program that aims to accelerate investment in the nation’s water infrastructure by providing long-term, low-cost supplemental credit assistance for regionally and nationally significant projects. According to EPA, since the WIFIA program began in 2017, the agency has received requests totaling $21.7 billion for water infrastructure projects across the country.
In 2019, EPA is offering $6 billion in loans that would help fund approximately $12 billion in water infrastructure projects. The agency received letters from prospective borrowers located in 21 states, including six states for which no borrower had previously sought WIFIA loans. This brings the total number of states where WIFIA loans have been requested to 35, plus the District of Columbia and Guam.
The third-round funding requests cover a wide variety of projects, including wastewater, drinking water, desalination, stormwater management and water reuse and recycling. EPA reported that the majority of prospective borrowers are municipal government agencies, while other prospective borrowers include small communities, public-private partnerships and corporations. For more information about the 2019 Letters of Interest, click here.
EPA will now evaluate the request letters for project eligibility, credit worthiness, engineering feasibility and alignment with WIFIA’s statutory and regulatory criteria. The agency will then identify projects it intends to finance and invite those selected entities to submit formal applications this fall.
In related news, EPA announced July 17 that it was awarding the ninth WIFIA loan of the year to Silicon Valley Clean Water. The $218 million loan will support a $517 million project to rehabilitate aging wastewater infrastructure in the San Francisco area.
ACPPA members are encouraged to learn more about the innovative financing initiatives in the U.S. and Canada and encourage water system owners to “tap into” these important federal resources.
ACPPA Leads NACA Workforce Development Efforts
With construction industry leaders increasingly concerned about the workforce shortage, ACPPA this month coordinated a letter from the North American Concrete Alliance (NACA) to Congress urging that any infrastructure package passed by Congress include programs to help recruit and train the next generation of construction industry technical talent.
NACA is a coalition of 12 concrete-related national trade associations, including ACPPA, the American Concrete Pavement Association, the American Concrete Pipe Association, the Concrete Pumping Association, the Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute, the Concrete Foundations Association, the National Concrete Masonry Association, the National Precast Concrete Association, the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association, the Portland Cement Association, the Precast/Pre-stressed Concrete Institute and the Tilt-Up Concrete Association.
The ACPPA-drafted letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said that despite above average construction industry wages, skilled laborers, technicians, operators, engineers, truck drivers and other trained workers are all in short supply. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported 263,000 construction job openings last year and projects faster-than-average employment growth in the industry through 2026. If left unaddressed, the problem will only get worse and it will take longer to realize the benefits of additional investment in America’s infrastructure.
The letter said that while the skills gap has many different causes and will not be solved solely by the federal government, there are important steps Congress can take to ease the pressure. For example, the recently-introduced bipartisan Building U.S. Infrastructure by Leveraging Demands for Skills (BUILDS) Act (H.R. 2831 and S. 1517) would provide grants to industry or sector partnerships that encourage collaboration to improve training, improve on-the-job learning opportunities, encourage mentorships, improve awareness about careers and provide resources to help workers obtain and hold jobs.
The letter said NACA also supports incentivizing the offering and undertaking of career and technical education, with an emphasis on trades and on-the-job training to develop marketable skills to meet the demands of the 21st century economy. It called on Congress to expedite the establishment and approval of apprenticeship programs by the Departments of Labor and Education and lift federal restrictions on drivers at least 18 years of age but under 21 operating commercial motor vehicles across state lines.
Senate Highway Reauth Bill Would Create New Resiliency Grant Program
The Senate this month started working on a bill to reauthorize the federal highway program, which is set to lapse at the end of September 2020. America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act of 2019 (S. 2302), which was unanimously approved by the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee on July 30, would authorize $287 billion for federal surface transportation programs over five years. Under the proposed legislation, $259 billion would be authorized for formula programs to maintain and repair America’s roads and bridges, an increase of more than 27 percent from the investment levels in the FAST Act, the 2015 highway bill.
In addition to the core program funding, the legislation contains a range of other related policy provisions. Among other things, it would codify the “One Federal Decision” policy to streamline project delivery and federal approvals and create a $12.5 million annual vehicle miles traveled (VMT) pilot program that would fund state and regional experiments with “user-based alternative revenue mechanisms” to the federal gas tax, which hasn’t been increased since 1993.
Of particular significance to the concrete and cement industry, Sec.1407 of the bill would establish a new Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-saving Transportation (PROTECT) program to help states improve the resiliency of transportation infrastructure against natural disasters and extreme weather events. The bill provides $786 million and $200 million from the Highway Trust Fund for PROTECT formula and competitive grants, respectively, for each of fiscal years 2021 through 2025.
To learn more about the legislation, follow the file links below:
|Legislation Text||Legislation Summary||Section-by-section Analysis|
Pressure Pipe Post
ACPPA’s Monthly Source for Industry News
To keep members aware of the activities of government and standards organizations, we regularly sweep public databases and publications for the industry-specific terms indicated below. We then provide our members with links to documents identified in the search. Please note that in some cases the URLs may link to subscription-only databases. The purpose of this service is to identify emerging threats and trends as well as opportunities for collective action by ACPPA.
Politics & Policy
|Venice Considers Fines for Sewage Spills|
|The Venice City Council will take up the question of whether they can have “penalty clauses for stupid things builders and developers might do” following a 448,800 gallon sewage spill.|
|Democratic Debate in Detroit, Near Flint, Brings Attention to Water Issues, Inequality|
|As the 2020 Democratic candidates continue to discuss climate change in the run-up to the primary, the debate in Detroit this week will bring attention to a topic crucial in the state of Michigan: water.|
|PA Spends $136M on Water Infrastructure|
|Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has announced the investment of $136 million for water infrastructure improvements. The funding, provided by the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority, will go to 17 projects in counties throughout the state for drinking water, wastewater, storm water, and other improvements.|
|Governors Announce Initiative to Address Aging Infrastructure|
|Maryland Governor Hogan announced a yearlong initiative to push for the repair, enhancement and modernization our nation’s infrastructure through innovative fixes to bottlenecks, creative partnerships with private investors, streamlined project review, smarter technologies and improved cyber-defenses, as his signature effort as incoming chair of the National Governors Association.|
|[Michigan] State Hosting First-ever Great Lakes Water Infrastructure Conference in Novi|
|The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) will host the first-ever Great Lakes Infrastructure Conference to help identify and solve the state’s water infrastructure challenges.|
|Ky. Water Infrastructure Task Force Meets for First Time|
|The challenges in meeting day-to-day water service for communities in Kentucky were discussed during first meeting of the Public Water and Wastewater System Infrastructure Task Force.|
|State Officials Announce $350 Million in Water Infrastructure Upgrades|
|Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced $350 million is available through the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act and the Intermunicipal Water Infrastructure Grant Program for municipalities with infrastructure projects that protect public health or improve water quality.|
|[California] ACWA Supports Legislature’s Approval of Safe Drinking Water Funding Solution|
|SB 200, which creates the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund, is the second part of an historic funding solution for disadvantaged communities in the state that do not have access to safe drinking water. The first part is in the state’s 2019-’20 budget, which Governor Newsom signed on June 27.|
Health & Safety
|FACEValue: Worker Killed in Trench Collapse|
|On the day of the incident, a 29-year-old construction worker was part of a crew installing a sewer pipe. The trench he was working in was 10 feet deep and about 3 feet wide. A collapse occurred in an unprotected area.|
|[Podcast] The Issues of an Aging Water Infrastructure Across the U.S. is Compounding the Issue of Legionnaires’ Disease|
|Rick Pearson speaks with Brad Considine, Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Alliance to Prevent Legionnaires’ Disease, about new rules and regulations going into effect regarding water safety and management. Brad explains how legionnaires’ disease arises and the struggles with addressing the cases that surface, how crucial the water infrastructure is across the U.S., and much more.|
Materials & Technology
|How AI and Data Turn City Water Management from an Art to a Science|
|In the face of futuristic urban change, water has been described as one of the least-disrupted municipal systems, despite its importance for survival.|
|ACI Conducts Study on Design of Fly Ash-Blended Low CO2 Concrete|
|The American Concrete Institute (ACI) presented a computational programme to design fly ash-blended concrete considering carbon dioxide (CO2) emission, strength and carbonation under different climate-change scenarios.|
|Robots Will Soon Invade St. Petersburg’s Sewer Pipes. Do Not Fear Them.|
|Autonomous robots could help fix the city’s outdated wastewater system by inspecting more pipes faster.|
Water & Wastewater
|Summer Rains Keep U.S. Drought at Lowest Levels in Decades|
|Steady summer rains have done their part to keep drought conditions at bay across much of the contiguous United States. The United States Drought Monitor’s (USDM) analysis on July 23, 2019, found drought conditions among their lowest levels since the organization began issuing the weekly report in 2000.|
|Tampa Considers Plan to Add Waste Water to Drinking Water Supply|
|Tampa currently treats millions of gallons of wastewater at the Howard F. Curren Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant. Roughly three million gallons of that wastewater is used to water some lawns in South Tampa under the “Star Project.”|
|How a ‘Perfect Storm’ Cut Off Water to Paonia|
|One morning in mid-February, David Herz went to turn on the faucet in his farmhouse outside the small western Colorado town of Paonia, and nothing came out.|
|Wichita’s Water Plant: ‘Every hour that thing is running, it could fail’|
|Next time water comes out of your tap, don’t take it for granted. Wichita’s only water treatment plant could fail at any moment.|
|The Latest Byproducts of Baltimore’s Failing Infrastructure: a Sinkhole and Snarled Traffic|
|A scene of infrastructure apocalypse played out near the convention center in downtown Baltimore.|
|Washington Floods Expose a Double Threat: Old Drains and Climate Change|
|When almost a month’s worth of rain deluged this city on Monday morning, turning streets into rivers and basements into wading pools, it showed just how vulnerable cities with aging water systems can be in the era of climate change.|
|Under the River & Through the Pipe|
|Fort Worth, Texas, is the 15th largest city in the U.S. and provides water and sewer services to more than 1.2 million North Texas residents. Its wastewater collection system exceeds 3,300 miles of pipelines with more than 255 miles of 24-in. and larger diameter pipe.|
|AWWA Releases Water Main Condition Assessment Manual|
|As infrastructure ages, utilities are increasingly challenged to maintain service levels while maintaining affordable water rates. Water main condition assessment helps utilities meet this challenge by identifying more precisely where money is best spent, leaving pipelines that have adequate integrity in place and preventing the unnecessary failure of others.|
|Department of Agriculture | Final Rule | Emergency Conservation Program|
|The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill) amended provisions of the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP). This rule implements those changes to ECP and makes additional minor technical amendments to the ECP regulations.|
|Department of Commerce | Notice | National Integrated Drought Information System National Drought Forum|
|The National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) Program Office and the National Drought Resilience Partnership (NDRP) will host the 2nd National Drought Forum on July 30-31, 2019.|
|Department of Defense | Notice | Establishment of Department of Defense Federal Advisory Committee|
|The TRLOC provides independent advice and recommendations to the Secretary of Defense, through the Secretary of the Army, regarding all permits to be issued under the existing Table Rock Lake Master Plan at the recommendation of the District Engineer, Little Rock District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and advise the District Engineer on revisions to the Table Rock Lake Master Plan and Table Rock Shoreline Management Plan, in accordance with section 1185(c)(2) of the 2016 WIIN Act.|
|H.R. 3723 | Introduced by Rep. Levin, Mike [D-Calif.] | Desalination Development Act|
|To promote desalination project development and drought resilience, and for other purposes.|
|S. 2302 | Introduced by Sen. Barasso, John [R-Wyo. | America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act of 2019|
|As of 07/31/2019 text had not been received for S.2302. Editor’s note: To see bill text, summaries and analysis, see “Senate Highway Reauth Bill Would Create New Resiliency Grant Program” in this edition.|
|H.R. 4039 | Introduced by Rep. Levin, Mike [D-Calif.] | To require the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to carry out a program to fund water infrastructure projects near the United States-Mexico border, and for other purposes.|
|As of 07/31/2019 text had not been received for H.R.4039|
|S. 2164 | Introduced by Sen. Cardin, Benjamin [D-Md.] | Water Resources Research Amendments Act|
|To amend the Water Resources Research Act of 1984 to reauthorize grants for and require applied water supply research regarding the water resources research and technology institutes established under that Act.|