CONNstruction - Winter 2011 - (Page 9)

newsandviews Water Infrastructure Projects Will Help Return the Construction Industry to Prosperity If the United States and Connecticut are going to pull out of the most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression, the construction industry will have to recover. Since the April 2006 peak, the industry has lost more than two million jobs, a decline of 29 percent. (Connecticut lost 20,500 industry jobs.) Employment in heavy and civil engineering construction—the segment that had previously added jobs as a result of federal funding for stimulus, military base realignment and Gulf Coast hurricane protection projects—recently shrank for the fourth month in a row, according to AGC of America. The industry is a key driver of employment and, throughout history, has led economies out of recessions. In order for the industry to return to prosperity, certain economic and regulatory conditions will have to change or projects and private funding will have to become available. While there may be no silver bullet and real recovery may not occur for some time, the pump needs to be primed. During recessions, public works projects can play an important role in getting the economy moving again. On the public financing side, H.R. 3145, the Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act of 2011, would help put dollars to work in Connecticut. The bill would: • Reauthorize the State Revolving Funds program for five years at increased funding of $13.8 billion for wastewater construction; By Matthew Hallisey CCIA Director of Government Relations and Legislative Counsel Executive Director, Connecticut Environmental and Utilities Contractors Association • authorize $2.5 billion over five years for sewer overflow control grants under the Clean Water Act; • establish a $10 billion Clean Water Trust Fund that will be used to primarily provide capitalization grants for Clean Water SRFs; and • leverage additional investment from the private sector to support large, public water infrastructure projects. H.R. 3145, which has bipartisan support, renews the federal commitment to addressing the nation’s substantial need for wastewater infrastructure by investing in the CWSRF, a highly successful, state-administered program. CWSRF provides financial assistance for local communities to address wet weather overflows through low-interest loans and additional loan subsidizations, e.g., principal forgiveness and negative interest loans. The bill recognizes the need for continued federal investment to protect the gains in water quality already made across the country and would help create thousands of new jobs. It creates incentives and gives priority to measures that incorporate innovation—green infrastructure, energy efficiency, and watershed approaches. Under the bill, Connecticut would, over five years, receive $41.5 million in baseline funding from CWSRF for infrastructure investment and $166.1 million in total funding, according to a state-by-state distribution table in a report prepared by the ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Total additional funding for Connecticut under the bill is $124.6 million, and it would create an estimated 4,621 jobs in the state. The Clean Water Construction Coalition, which promotes federal legislation that improves water and wastewater infrastructure, supports the bill. (CCIA is a member; also, see article, “Working Together,” on page 14.) The bill still faces challenges, even though it has bipartisan support, is revenue neutral and will not add to the federal debt. It is competing with a number of other important bills, not the least of which is highway reauthorization. Washington is paralyzed and, to make matters worse, next year all of Congress, one-third of the Senate and the Presidency are up for election. Unpopular, automatic, across-the-board cuts in discretionary spending programs, including defense, are triggered by the suepr committee’s failure to agree on a deficit reduction plan. Any bill with a multi-billion dollar price tag and uncertain revenue sources is getting increased scrutiny. Nonetheless, H.R. 3145 merits serious consideration because it would provide substantial funding for construction of wastewater infrastructure that would help create real jobs for an industry that desperately ately needs it. CONNstruction / Winter 2011 / 9

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CONNstruction - Winter 2011

Is Water Affordable?
Water Infrastructure Projects Will Help Return the Construction Industry to Prosperity
FASB Backs Off, Requiring More Rigorous Withdrawal Liability Disclosures
The Potential of Public-Private Partnerships in Water and Wastewater Projects
Working Together
Pour It On
The Name Says It All
Momentum Achieved on MDC Clean Water Project
2011 AGC of CT Industry Recognition Awards & Dinner
CCPC Annual Picnic
YCF September Meeting
The Diggers Mixers Fixers Annual Golf Outing
CEUCA Fall Luncheon

CONNstruction - Winter 2011