Hamilton Kent Blog

Canada and US: Get ready to feel the water funding flow (Updated)

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Last month, Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau made the first official visit by a Canadian leader to the White House in almost 20 years.

While Canadian and American priorities differ significantly, both President Obama and Prime Minister Trudeau have frequently had one word on their lips over the past few months: Infrastructure.

Both leaders have suggested that it’s time to start investing in infrastructure projects across Canada and the United States to keep communities safe and economies growing. Obama has proposed changes to certain EPA water funds for 2017—though they are expected to release the official budget later than the planned April 15 this year.

Meanwhile, the Canadian government released their budget on March 22. The budget will double funding for Canada’s infrastructure. According to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) every $1 billion invested in infrastructure generates between $1.20 billion and $1.64 billion in real GDP growth.

So where will you see these changes?

Canadian infrastructure promises

The new Canadian Liberal Government has promised $60 billion over 10 years towards infrastructure. This is on top of money that was already designated towards infrastructure by the previous Conservative government through the New Building Canada Plan, bringing total infrastructure funding to $120 billion, spread out over 10 years. This extra funding is set to be split evenly across each province and territory.

Each province, territory and municipality will then also have to match the funds given to them by the federal government—turning this extra $60 billion into $180 billion across the country—if no changes are made to the way that funds are typically split.

Canadian budget rollout

A Phase 1 rollout of $11.9 billion of these funds will start immediately for shovel-ready projects across Canada, including $5 billion for investments in water, wastewater and green infrastructure.

Part of this is $2 billion for the Clean Water and Wastewater Fund, which will be allocated over four years to upgrade at-risk wastewater facilities.

First Nations communities will also be seeing a lot of new funding with nearly $2.5 billion coming out of the $5 billion for water, wastewater and waste management infrastructure. There have been ongoing boil water advisories on a number of reservations due to poor water quality.

More infrastructure funds are also continuing to flow each year from the Gas Tax Fund and Incremental Goods and Services Tax (GST) Rebate for Municipalities ($3 billion), and from the New Building Canada Fund’s Provincial-Territorial Infrastructure component ($9 billion).

Any money that the government has leftover each year will go to municipalities via gas-tax payments to make sure that all of these funds are being allocated.

The new government has also suggested opening a Canadian Infrastructure Bank (CIB) as a means of ensuring that projects are selected through a smarter, more transparent and well-planned screening system. The government has allocated a $50 million capacity building fund that supports the use of asset management best practices across Canada, in order to manage public funds efficiently and productively.

Canadian projects

One Canadian city in particular that is hoping to benefit from the increase in infrastructure funding is Halifax. The city needs $2.5 billion in funds for a long-term plan to upgrade water and wastewater systems.

Check out the top 100 infrastructure projects in the works across Canada here. You can also look at water infrastructure projects across the country that are being funded by Public-Private Partnerships (P3) under the New Building Canada Plan here.

Changes for the United States

We’ve written before about what happened inside the pipes in Flint, MI, and this city continues to be a tragic example of why keeping infrastructure up-to-date is critically important.

A union fund has pledged $25 million to help fix the pipes in Flint, but the government is in the process of making changes to all levels of funding to stop this from happening again.

Proposals from Obama

Obama recently proposed adding $158 million to an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) program called the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF). It’s an 18% increase over this year’s funding and will directly help communities affected by water contamination. The 2016 fund has $20 million, with an assumed state match of $5 million.

You can check out how much funding is going to each state from the DWSRF here and the CWSRF here.

Stay tuned with Hamilton Kent on the latest water infrastructure projects to come over the next year.