Hamilton Kent Blog

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

Main Image

Last week, 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 politics 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, and the Canadian government is currently planning a budget that will double their investment into Canada’s infrastructure. According to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (see page 15 of the PDF) every $1 billion invested in infrastructure generates between $1.20 billion and $1.64 billion in real GDP growth.

We’re here to break down where you’re about to see these changes, and how you can take advantage of them for your shovel-ready projects.

Changes for Canada

The new Canadian Liberal Government was elected on October 19, 2015. Since elected into office, they’ve acted on 14 of their 217 promises, and started on 32 more.

Of those 217 promises is an extra $60 billion over 10 years allocated for 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 the total over 10 years to about $125 billion. 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.

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 budget for these funds is set to be released on March 21 or 22.Canadians don’t know yet where funds are being allocated, but Liberal Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi said the government’s goal is to have money flowing towards projects by the start of 2016 construction season.

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.

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 so important.

Flint’s crisis has been a hot topic in both President Obama’s agenda, as well as in upcoming election platforms as something that could have been prevented at every level of the government. Already, a union fund has pledged $25 million to help fix the pipes in Flint, but the government is making changes to all levels of funding to stop this from happening again.

Obama recently proposed adding $158 million to an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) program called the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF). This is an 18% increase from 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.

Some senators have criticized Obama’s proposal as extra funds for the DWSRF will come from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF), which keeps lakes and rivers clean by upgrading wastewater treatment plants. If overloaded, wastewater and pollutants from outdated treatment plants can flow into lakes and rivers. Critics have also argued that the source of the corrosive water in Flint’s pipes stemmed from contaminated river water.

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.