By Dave Sorem, P.E., ECA Government Affairs Chairman email: [email protected]

The presidential election is over and the interesting stuff will start in about month from the time you are reading this.
We’ve been around long enough not to take campaign promises too literally, but we are hopeful that the pledge of Donald Trump to actually spend money on infrastructure projects will be followed up with action from the new 115th Congress which will take its collective seats January 3, 2017. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate are controlled by members of the Republican Party and the leadership of both bodies have said they are planning to work with the new, Republican president on the agenda he laid out in the campaign.

The big headlines on infrastructure focused on a goal of spending $1 trillion on improvements to the nation’s highways, bridges, airports and the like. The plan, Trump said, could be paid for on low-level taxes on the “repatriation” of profits of U.S. multinational companies bringing back profits from their overseas operations, among other things. There wasn’t much discussion that this Trillion was to be spent over ten years and would need a more robust economy to generate the additional funds need to completely cover the cost.
More for Water/Sewer Work
One thing that caught our eye was a bullet point from the Trump campaign website that said:

  • Make clean water a high priority. Develop a long term water infrastructure plan with city, state and federal leaders to upgrade aging water systems. Triple funding for state revolving loan fund programs to help states and local governments upgrade critical drinking water and wastewater infrastructure.

For California that could mean an increase of at least a billion dollars, which coupled with the more than $1.425 billion promised for clean water and sewer work from the 2014 water bonds would be a real boost for our industry.

Since the revolving funds are based on local, state and federal funding they have been steadily growing since the program was initiated in the 1990s, and as low interest loans from the program are repaid, more and more money will flow through the funds for projects for our contractors to complete.

This program and others are for local projects and is one of the keys for the Engineering Contractors’ Association efforts, in partnership with our construction trades and local government agencies to work together to develop applications for grants and loans needed to improve the water quality in our southern California communities.