Leveraging Associations

Dec. 6, 2017

About the author: Bob Crossen is the managing editor of Water & Wastes Digest. Crossen can be reached at [email protected]

State and federal regulations and compliance are the most important topic of 2018. Or so say the 271 respondents of this years’ Water & Wastes Digest State of the Industry survey.

This is not surprising. Regulations, compliance and legislation always have been high priorities for the water and wastewater industry. And given the change in the U.S. presidential administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), where deregulation has been a major platform for President Donald J. Trump and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, the attention paid is not unwarranted.

Following close behind those issues is the matter of funding, another big facet of the president’s plan. But just how the funding resources—$200 billion in the budget and another $800 billion expected with public-private partnerships—will be allocated is unclear. For the Water & Wastewater Equipment Manufacturer’s Assn. (WWEMA) and 14 other industry associations—including the American Water Works Assn., Water Environment Federation and American Public Works Assn.—this is seen as a critical time of influence on Congress to express the urgency and need for water and wastewater infrastructure funding reform.

Those associations created the Ad Hoc Water Infrastructure Group and sent a letter to Congress Nov. 2 about a proposed plan for the industry. The letter, distributed at the WWEMA conference in Scottsdale, Ariz., in November, indicates that $1 trillion is needed in the next 20 years to stem the tide of failing infrastructure.

Incentives for partnerships between water and wastewater systems, more federal funding through the Water Infrastructure Financing Innovation Act, and private-sector participation and investment are at the top of the list as ways to reach that number. Considering Trump’s stance on public-private partnerships—which have been effective in other infrastructure industries—this stance looks like it could take hold.

But to make this work, these associations need help from you, our readers. Take some time to contact your associations and let them know what you think are critical issues facing your company. By banding together, this ad hoc committee will have tremendous leverage that can make an impact in Washington, D.C. And you can be a part of that movement.