Guest Column | December 12, 2016

Got Water-Related Services And Solutions? WIIN Funding Will Initiate Hundreds Of Contracting Opportunities

Dam

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:

  • A plan that will allow large ships to better navigate in Portsmouth Harbor and the Piscataqua River between New Hampshire and Maine, expanding the turning basin to improve the safety and efficiency of bringing commercial goods into Maine;
  • Technical assistance for small communities that lack the resources to comply with and complete the necessary applications to access federal wastewater funding programs;
  • Numerous provisions for the Port of Corpus Christi and its Channel Improvement Project that will provide for deepening and widening the ship channel;
  • Upgrades for locks and dams in the Upper Ohio River Valley around Pittsburgh;
  • Funding of nearly $2 billion toward completion of the Central Everglades Planning Project to improve the quantity, quality,  and distribution of water flows to the northern estuaries, central Everglades National Park and Florida Bay, and increasing water supply for municipalities, industry, and agricultural users;
  • A $526 million subsidy for the Trinity River Vision project in Texas, that seeks to reconstruct 88 miles of the river that flows through Fort Worth, to create Panther Island, an urban waterfront community; and
  • Maintenance assistance at the Port of Muskogee and Port of Catoosa, in northeast Oklahoma, as well as projects at Tulsa levees and the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System.

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.

Mary Scott Nabers is president and CEO of Strategic Partnerships Inc., a business development company specializing in government contracting and procurement consulting throughout the U.S.

Image credit: "Dam," Phil Roeder © 2013, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/