Today marks the end of the sixth annual National Infrastructure Week—a week of events, media coverage, and issue advocacy across the country to elevate infrastructure as a critical issue impacting America’s future. In the world of environmental finance, however, every week is infrastructure week, with growing capital needs to replace aging assets acting as a major challenge in the drinking water and wastewater industry, among others.
To help wrap up this important week, we’ve curated a list of water infrastructure-focused posts from not only our own blog, but from blogs around the web as well: Continue reading
The White House’s Legislative Outline for Rebuilding Infrastructure in America, which was released early this year, outlines the President’s proposed steps to encourage increased state, local, and private investment in infrastructure. And though you’ve probably heard a lot about it, chances are you haven’t had the time to read and reflect on the 55 page document. So what might the President’s plan mean for infrastructure in your community? While the plan outlines programs for infrastructure of all sectors, this post provides a quick overview of the four proposed programs with relevance to water infrastructure.
In honor of Infrastructure Week (May 11-15, 2015), we dug into a report published by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) in March. Public Spending on Transportation and Water Infrastructure, 1956 to 2014 reports on trends in federal, state, and local government spending on infrastructure, using data acquired from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). This graph illustrates the federal funding trends for water and wastewater utilities between 1956 and 2014, in 2014 dollars. Funding levels have decreased dramatically — nearly fourfold between 1980 and 2014. The consequence for communities nationwide is even more significant when considering that a majority of the federal funds in the 1970s and 1980s were provided as grants, while the majority of the funds provided since the 1990s have primarily been loans.
CBO’s report includes more detailed breakdowns on federal, state, and local spending on water and wastewater infrastructure. We published a blog post looking at four other trends in public spending on water and wastewater utilities. We also posted an Excel spreadsheet with the data here.
Many government-owned wastewater systems in the United States are enterprise funds. That is, they are business-like units within the overall government that should be self-sustaining, taking their revenue from the rates and fees charged to wastewater customers rather than from taxes. Ideally, wastewater utilities base their rates and fees on the full cost of providing wastewater service, not just on operating expenses and routine maintenance costs. Full cost rates and fees would also include taxes and accounting costs, contingencies for emergencies, and, perhaps most importantly, costs related to capital infrastructure—principal and interest on long-term debt and reserves for capital improvement. Continue reading