By Mary Scott Nabers
Companies in water-related industries will soon be inundated with prospects for government contracting opportunities as a result of passage of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN). After months of debate and give-and-take, the long-awaited comprehensive federal water bill was just approved by the U.S. House and Senate and should be signed into law by President Barack Obama very soon.
The $10-billion bill sets aside funding and a variety of forms of assistance for hundreds of water projects nationwide that address water supply, navigation, and other water infrastructure improvements. The bill also includes the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2016, which addresses flood protection, port, waterway, and other water resources infrastructure projects.
It also authorizes programs to improve drinking water infrastructure nationwide, improve water storage and delivery to communities facing long-term drought, and addresses environmental conservation and management.
The biggest winners following passage of the bill may be private-sector firms that will deliver services and solutions. Another positive result will be the collaboration that will result from efforts between the public and private sectors.
One key provision will provide aid to the city of Flint, MI, and other similarly affected cities, to replace pipes to homes found to have lead-contaminated water. Flint has for more than two years faced challenges related to a public health issue caused by high levels of lead in its drinking water. The bill contains a $170 million funding package that includes a $100 million State Revolving Fund investment and an additional $50 million for health programs. Another $70 million is allocated for lead pipe replacement.
A few specific projects in the legislation include:
Announcements about upcoming contracting opportunities should be forthcoming. Private-sector firms interested in working with government to upgrade the country’s water infrastructure should be talking to public officials now about their interest and their capabilities.
Image credit: "Dam," Phil Roeder © 2013, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/