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Actionline – September 30, 2018


Water Infrastructure, FAA Bills On-Track for Near-Term Approval

Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s U.S. Supreme Court confirmation is grabbing the spotlight on Capitol Hill, but other work is getting done off stage and lawmakers are rushing to get key infrastructure bills across the goal line before Congress adjourns until after the 2018 midterm elections.

The House of Representatives unanimously approved a comprehensive water infrastructure bill on Sept. 13 and passed a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill with airport construction funding on Sept. 26 by a vote of 398 to 23.

As Actionline went to press, it looked likely that both bills could be taken up by the Senate the week of Oct. 1 and quickly sent to the president’s desk. Given the uncertainty surrounding Kavanaugh’s nomination and confirmation vote, it’s possible that the Senate might take up the water and FAA bills even earlier than expected so as not to let valuable floor time go to waste.

Water Bill Includes WRDA and Much More

The centerpiece of America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 (S. 3021) is the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). WRDA bills are traditionally passed by Congress every two years and authorize Army Corps of Engineers harbor, ports waterway and flood protection projects. However, S. 3021 also includes several drinking water, hydropower and storm and wastewater provisions.

The bill is the first reauthorization of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) in 25 years. Although Congress has appropriated money for the drinking water state revolving fund program each year in the absence of an authorization, reauthorization puts the program on much more confident and predictable footing.

The bill authorizes more than $4.4 billion in appropriations over three years for the state drinking water act revolving loan fund. The amounts are: $1.174 billion in fiscal year 2019, $1.3 billion in fiscal year 2020 and $1.95 billion in fiscal year 2021. While ACPPA would, of course, have preferred a longer-term bill with more money, S. 3021 is a step in the right direction and shows that Congress recognizes the nation’s drinking water investment deficit.

The bill also reauthorizes the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program at $50 million annually for two years, streamlines the process for state applications, provides additional sources of funding for State Infrastructure Financing Authorities applying for WIFIA loans. WIFIA has become a politically popular program since it was created in 2014. It provides long-term, low cost supplemental credit assistance to improve access to capital for drinking water and sewer projects.

The drinking water title of the bill also clarifies that SRF monies can be used to replace or rehabilitate aging treatment, storage or distribution facilities to meet SDWA mandates or improve public health, asks EPA to collect information on best management practices for SRFs and requires the EPA’s national drinking water needs survey to include a report on lead pipes.

The bill also addresses asset management and planning challenges identified by ACPPA’s 2018 drinking water investment report by public policy researchers at the College of William & Mary. First, it requires states, as part of their Capacity Development Strategy, to consider, solicit and include as appropriate, how the state will encourage the use of asset management plans and assist in the use of asset management best practices by public water systems as part of these plans. Second, it requires that when the state publishes its Capacity Development Strategy report to detail the efficacy of and progress made on the state’s efforts to encourage development of asset management plans and to engage in relevant training to implement asset management plans. Last, it requires the Administrator to, every five years, review and update, if appropriate, educational materials made available by the Agency.

The water bill is also good news for ACPPA members who see opportunities in hydropower development. Among other things, it encourages the use of clean, baseload hydropower by streamlining the regulatory permitting process, removes barriers to investments.

More information about the water bill, including full text, a summary, and a section-by-section analysis is available at:

FAA Bill Delivers Long-Term Predictability for Airport Construction Projects

The FAA bill will also impact the construction sector. It provides stable funding for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP), which issues grants to public use airports for planning and development purposes. The AIP will receive $3.35 billion per year for the next five years. However, there was disappointment among organizations representing construction and airport interests that the legislation did not increase AIP funding and did not increase the Passenger Facility Charge, which has been capped at $4.50 per flight segment since 2000.

While neither bill is law yet and we would like to have seen more funding for core infrastructure programs, both represent significant achievements given the political environment in Washington and will provide near-term stability for construction markets. The bills demonstrate that, at least on infrastructure issues, there is an opportunity for bipartisan cooperation and may set stage for additional legislation in this area in 2019.

Canadian Infrastructure Bank Invests in First Project

The Canadian Infrastructure Bank (CIB) last month announced what is apparently its first project. The CIB and CDPQ Infra, a wholly owned subsidiary of Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, reached a business agreement in late August on CIB’s investment in the Réseau express métropolitain project (REM) in Montréal, a 67-km, light rail, high-frequency network with 26 stations. The $1.28 billion investment completes the project’s $6.3-billion financing. The agreement is subject to the execution of the final documentation.

CIB’s $1.28 billion investment will take the form of a 15-year senior secured loan at a rate starting at one percent escalating to percent over the term of the loan. According to the CIB announcement, because its investment takes the form of a loan, CDPQ Infra’s equity stake in the REM project will be approximately 70 percent and the Government of Québec’s stake will be approximately 30 percent.

ACPPA is hopeful that the CIB, which was created by the Government of Canada in 2016, will over time help support of a variety of types of infrastructure (including water) and attract new private capital for critical projects.

Pressure Pipe Post

ACPPA’s Monthly Source for Industry News
September 2018

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.


Member Updates

Northwest Pipe Acquires Ameron Water Transmission
Northwest Pipe Company said it has expanded its footprint in a key market through the acquisition of Ameron Water Transmission Group, a major supplier of engineered welded steel pressure pipe as well as reinforced concrete pipe.


Underneath Boston: A City Built on Wood Piles Preserved by Groundwater
Boston Groundwater Trust has been working underneath the scenes to preserve the structural integrity of Boston since 1986, monitoring groundwater levels to be sure the wood pilings holding up businesses and homes in several neighborhoods remain strong.
[Illinois] Opinion: Improving Environmental Infrastructure
The state budget that Gov. Rick Snyder signed for 2019 is historic for many reasons. It is the eighth year in a row the state Legislature and governor have approved budgets months before the deadline. Due to responsible fiscal policies and a healthy economy, the state ended the fiscal year with over $800 million which will be devoted to critical infrastructure needs like road repair and a down payment on fixing the Soo Locks.
Can Banning Privatization Keep Water Cheap, Safe, and Flowing?
Baltimore voters are deciding whether to ban privatization of the water utility. But without the infusion of private investment, can cities continue to afford providing safe, inexpensive water?
[Canada] Governments Announce Infrastructure Funding
More than $16.5 million in federal and territorial funds will go to improvements to the water and waste water pipes in Dawson City, the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun’s water treatment plant, and installing a solar power system at Moosehide.


[Arizona] Little Elf Drainage Work Continues
The city’s Coffee Pot drainage basin improvements project continues to move forward, on schedule and on budget
[Texas] New Water Line to Bring Higher Water Pressure to Campus
Rice is partnering with the City of Houston to install a new water pipe along the inner loop that will bring higher water pressure to campus, according to project manager Elmer Whitehead.
Major Work on Pipe in Village of Winifred Continues in Upheaval of Residents’ Lives
According to a recent email from Sumter County Administrator Bradley Arnold following the storm drain cleaning, there was “no alternative” but to replace the damaged pipe that caused the issues.
[Canada] Crews Working Downtown Dig up 100-Year-Old Wooden Pipe
Brent Caissie, Project Manager with Wapiti Gravel Suppliers says they made the find just North of 214 Place on 100 Avenue. He says it was an old sanitary sewer line that was used before it was replaced around 1940.
[Georgia] Jackson Celebrates Completion of Freeman Circle Sewer Project
With the help of a federal grant of $500,000, the city of Jackson has completed its first major sewer infrastructure upgrade project in years.
[Canada] Storm-Drain Replacement Set for Sherman Road
The need to replace this storm drain was identified in 2017 when North Cowichan replaced the storm drains and added sidewalks on the south side of Sherman Road.


Mega Caverns Challenge to Utilize Underground Systems
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is holding a Subterranean Challenge in the Mega Caverns to revolutionize how they operate underground.
Simulator Helps Protect Underground Utilities and Pipelines
This first-of-a-kind system will be built in the new National Buried Infrastructure Facility (NBIF) at the University of Birmingham in the UK, and be used to study the effects of soil displacement and ground movement on underground utilities, pipes and subsurface structures.
Boring Company Introduces Tunnel Garage Prototype
Elon Musk’s Boring Company was recently granted approval from the Hawthorne City Council to implement a new addition to its tunnel prototype—a garage that would connect a passenger’s car directly to the underground infrastructure network.

Water & Wastewater Management

Water in The Hole
What does it take to control the devastating affects of flooding? Where does a watershed community find an area that can effectively mitigate the catastrophic effects of periodic torrential rains?
US Drinking Water Supply is at Risk from Deteriorating Pipes
Beset by over 300,000 water main breaks each year, America’s underground water pipes are showing the effects of age and chronic corrosion. “The signs of distress surface daily as water mains break causing floods and service disruptions,” the study notes. “The loss of service is more than an inconvenience, causing significant economic and social disruptions.”
[Indiana] Overall Sewer Rate Hike Expected to Be Smaller
Warsaw City Council on Monday received a rough idea of how much wastewater bills will rise next year. And it appears to be less than expected.
[Florida] Bradenton OKs Hikes in Water, Sewer Fees
Some water and sewer lines still date back to before the 1950s but the city has had in place an aggressive replacement program for the past few years. In order to keep pace with that program, the city has approved a 4 percent hike in utility fees for the second year in a row after no increases the previous three years.
[Georgia] Albany Commission OKs Emergency Sewer Funds
The Albany City Commission approved a measure Tuesday that will give City Manager Sharon Subadan the authority to approve up to $1.5 million in emergency spending to perform needed repairs on 10 of the 108 lift stations in the city’s sewer system.
Pipe Bursting for Water Line Replacement
Much of our nation’s underground infrastructure is reaching or functioning beyond expected lifespans. This critical network of pipes and mains serve our most basic drinking water and sanitary sewer needs. Many municipalities are faced with the challenging task of replacing or lining deteriorating facilities while minimizing service disruptions for residences and businesses.


General Oversight

Environmental Protection Agency | Final Rule | National Priorities List
The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (‘‘CERCLA’’ or ‘‘the Act’’), as amended, requires that the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan (‘‘NCP’’) include a list of national priorities among the known releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants throughout the United States.
Environmental Protection Agency | Proposed Rule | National Priorities List
The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (‘‘CERCLA’’ or ‘‘the Act’’), as amended, requires that the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan (‘‘NCP’’) include a list of national priorities among the known releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants throughout the United States.

Water Infrastructure

Environmental Protection Agency | Notice | Information Session; Implementation of the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 2014
The Environmental Protection Agency is announcing plans to hold an information session on Thursday, October 11, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. The purpose of this session is to provide prospective borrowers with a better understanding of the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program requirements, application process, and to hear from WIFIA’s first borrower, King County, about their experience.

Water Supply

Department of Agriculture | Final Rule | Announcement Process for Rural Utilities Service Grant Programs
The Rural Utilities Service (RUS) is issuing a final rule to conform with newly implemented uniform posting requirements for federal grants, so that interested applicants need only search one federal posting site on grant opportunities.


Clean Water

H.R. 6818 | Introduced by Rep. McEachin, Donald (D-Va.) | Clean Water Infrastructure Act
To amend the Safe Drinking Water Act to increase assistance for States, water systems, and disadvantaged communities; to encourage good financial and environmental management of water systems; and to strengthen the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to enforce the requirements of the Act, and for other purposes.

Water Supply

H.R. 6782 | Introduced by Rep. DeSaulnier, Mark (D-Calif.) | Sustainable Water Supplies Act
To determine the feasibility of additional agreements for long-term use of existing or expanded non-Federal storage and conveyance facilities to augment Federal water supply, ecosystem, and operational flexibility benefits in certain areas, and for other purposes.
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