News Feature | November 18, 2016

What A Trump Presidency Means For Water Management, Infrastructure

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

What does a Trump administration, paired with Republican majorities in both chambers of Congress, mean for water policy?

Water was not a main focal point of the presidential campaign, so much remains unknown about what President-elect Donald Trump’s water decisions will entail. Nevertheless, he dropped a few hints during the campaign.

One clue lies in a document Trump released before the election describing plans for the first 100 days of his presidency. Water infrastructure appeared as a priority in that document.

The plan said the administration will “cancel billions in payments to U.N. climate change programs and use the money to fix America's water and environmental infrastructure,” the document said, per NPR.

In his election night victory speech, Trump reiterated his commitment to improving U.S. infrastructure.

“We are going to fix our inner cities and rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals. We're going to rebuild our infrastructure, which will become, by the way, second to none. And we will put millions of our people to work as we rebuild it,” he said, per PBS Newshour.

Another clue about Trump’s water plans: He has aligned with agricultural interests on a pair of water issues. “I will appoint a pro-farmer administrator of EPA,” Trump said at one point.

On campaign trips to California, he vowed to “solve” the state’s water problem and criticized environmental laws protecting fish in a show of solidarity with farmers.

“If I win, believe me, we’re going to start opening up the water so that you can have your farmers survive, so that your job market will get better,” Trump said, per the Los Angeles Times.

He also aligned with farmers in the debate over the “waters of the United States” rule (WOTUS) proposed by the U.S. EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers. Trump called the rule “unconstitutional” and promised not to use it. 

Trump has also provided some clues about his water agenda through his staffing decisions.

Rep. Devin Nunes, Republican of California, “a bulldog on water, [was made an] executive member of Trump’s transition team. The incoming administration also has appointed a Westlands Water District lobbyist, David Bernhardt, to head the Interior Department transition team that will make recommendations on policies and personnel,” The Fresno Bee reported in an editorial.

Beyond that, a lot remains unknown about how Trump will approach water policy. Michigan Live pointed to the questions that remain unanswered about Trump’s view on water pollution, and in particular, the water crisis in Flint, MI.

“Despite a visit to Flint, a tour of the city water plant and an assurance that the water crisis wouldn't have happened had he been president, Trump hasn't talked specifics about how he sees Washington D.C.'s role in helping the city get back on its feet after what became a federally recognized drinking water emergency,” the report said.

For similar stories visit Water Online’s Asset Management Solutions Center.

Image credit: "Donald Trump," Gage Skidmore © 2014, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: