Editorial Letter: Infrastructure Bill Indirect Impacts

Dec. 7, 2021

This editorial letter originally appeared in iWWD Winter 2021 issue as "Infrastructure Bill Indirect Impacts"

While the passage of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill’s $55 billion allocation for water and wastewater is focused primarily on municipal water and wastewater systems, we cannot overlook the potential impacts it will have on the industrial sector.

For example, with additional funding for sewers and wastewater treatment plants, discharge requirements for industrial users may change as municipalities increase capacity and improve treatment systems.

Additionally, improvements in treatment and distribution systems for municipal water authorities may provide new outlets for industrial uers to purchase for-purpose water. This is already seen in areas like Scottsdale, Arizona where the water authority distributes water for irrigation without the need to treat it to full drinking water standards. Considering the challenges with water resources growing in the Western U.S., these kinds of water strategies could become a more common solution.

A potentially greater indirect change will be in regards to simply completing all the work. The Buy America requirements, a regulation requiring 50% of equipment contain domestically produced materials when federal funding is involved, will make competition for domestically produced iron and steel very high.

With $550 billion in new spending, all infrastructure industries will be vying for this domestic product, so while industrial users may not be subject to Buy America, it may impact timelines for construction or for receiving equipment due to the demand from other industries due to the money available for those expenses.