Hamilton Kent Blog

HK looks forward to 2016

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Upcoming Infrastructure Reports

The Canadian Public Works Association (CPWA) is releasing The Canadian Infrastructure Report Card at the beginning of 2016 following the same format from 2012.

The report card follows a similar format to America’s Infrastructure Report Card released by the American Society of Civil Engineering (ASCE) released in 2013 that notoriously received a D+.

The ASCE’s next report card isn’t coming until 2017. Until then, they will be releasing individual report cards for different states.

They’ve already released a report card for Alabama in 2015 (it received a C-), and will be releasing report cards for Colorado, Florida, and New Jersey through 2016.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has also released a Report Card on California’s Response to Drought where they evaluate the state’s urban water conservation efficiency, stormwater capture and reuse among other things.

Stormwater responses to climate change

Along with these report cards, governments are starting to think differently about climate solutions in urban centers. This is why, over the past five years, we’ve been seeing changes to stormwater solutions outside of the pipes.

Innovations like green roofs ease up on the amount of stormwater runoff in urban centers by using plants that can not only absorb water that would otherwise pool on rooftops or in parking lots, but also transpire it back up into the atmosphere. This process also leads to fewer contaminants in our water and less overflow in stormwater systems. And we could be seeing more of it in the future.

Governments are having to get creative with how to conserve their water in states experiencing drought. One solution has been to reduce the amount of water being delivered to the Greater Los Angeles area by 15 percent. They’ve also protected their drinking water supply by dropping 96 million plastic balls into their reservoir.

Government Funding for 2016

We’ve spoken before about the US$305 billion FAST Act passed by President Obama in December. Here are some other grants and funding increasing for 2016:

The EPA is contributing grants to each state from various funds in 2016 that will go towards water infrastructure improvements and projects.

The first type of grant comes from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF). This is the annual allotment of federal funds for states. You can check out what funds your state, tribe or territory can look forward to here.

The second type of grant given by the EPA comes out of the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF). A record of funds for 2016 hasn’t been released yet, but you can see where grants went for 2015 here.

For Canada, in the wake of the government changeover in 2015, infrastructure spending will increase. Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities is working to develop a 10-year infrastructure investment plan that will increase federal infrastructure by CAD$60 billion over the next decade.

In the meantime, the government will move forward with the CAD $32 billion Community Improvement Fund, CAD$14 billion New Building Canada Fund, CAD$1.25 billion P3 Canada fund (Public-Private Partnerships) and CAD$6 billion in existing infrastructure programs for 2016.

Tax Hikes

To mitigate the need for new infrastructure across Canada and the United States, municipalities are taking charge with both proposed and approved tax hikes.

A large portion of these tax increases will benefit improvements in drinking water, stormwater, and sewage infrastructure.

Regina, SK, for example, is incorporating a tax hike of 6% for their water and sewage—these improvements include continued work on their sewage treatment plant.

Other cities such as Ottawa, ON, have implemented both tax hikes for 2016 (6% for water and wastewater bills) and will be starting an 8-month awareness campaign about a change in structure for water and sewer bills in 2017.

Meanwhile, some municipalities such as Wichita, WY are outsourcing to consultants to report on the state of their infrastructure, decide what needs to be replaced or upgraded, and how to best fund these improvements.