Infrastructure Fix

Trump campaigned on a $1 trillion infrastructure fix over 10 years. As big a number as that is, it’s only about half what the American Society of Civil Engineers said will be needed in additional funding to meet the $4.59 trillion it would take by 2025 to make up for years of neglect.

The president’s budget director said April 20 that Trump will propose spending $200 billion in taxpayer dollars on infrastructure. Leveraging private investment would boost the outlay to $1 trillion, he said. The administration hopes to send an infrastructure package to Congress “probably by summer or this fall,” U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said during an April 24 event in Ohio.

It’s unclear how much of that would be devoted to water projects, though EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt told a conference of mayors last month that water investments would match those for highways, bridges and airports. During the campaign, Trump said everyone deserves safe drinking water, and that “water infrastructure will be a big priority.’’

“Water is the oil of the 21st century,” said Phil Mezey, chief executive officer of Itron Inc., a smart-meter supplier to U.S. water and power utilities.

‘Coming Fast’

The administration’s initial plan called for addressing infrastructure after passing measures on health care and taxes. But the health-care bill failed to even get a vote and Trump started talking about combining it with infrastructure to attract support from Democrats.

“Probably use it with something else that’s a little bit harder to get approved, in order to get that approved,” Trump said during an April 18 appearance in Kenosha, Wisconsin. “But infrastructure is coming and it’s coming fast.”

The timing is “still a little bit up in the air,’’ depending on whether a bill moves alone or with other legislation, DJ Gribbin, special assistant to the president on infrastructure policy, said April 12 at a Wall Street Journal forum in Washington.

Report Card

In its 2017 report card on infrastructure, the American Society of Civil Engineers said federal, state and local governments have committed $45 billion to upgrade water and wastewater infrastructure, but needs to spend another $105 billion over the next 10 years. Dams, levees and ports could use $124 billion more over the next decade to close the funding gap, the report card said.

Other types of infrastructure spending, like building bridges, repairing highways and upgrading airports, require permits and approvals that can bog down work for years. Fixing existing water pipes and pumps can be done faster.

“Water pipes won’t be litigated,” Richardson said. “Bridges and highways require environmental impact statements.

“Water is an under-appreciated asset,” he added. “There’s a lot to love and a lot to be cautious about.”

This article was provided by Bloomberg News.

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