Plans unveiled by the Trump Administration last week include elimination of a $498 million program that aids rural water and wastewater systems.
Rural water infrastructure would take a hit under the proposed 2018 federal budget unveiled last week by President Donald Trump. A full budget will be submitted in May, but the “blueprint” just released provided some details of the cuts the Trump administration is looking at.
Among the top items for the water industry is elimination of a $498 million U.S. Department of Agriculture grant and loan program for rural water systems. The program helps fund water and sewer systems in communities with less than 10,000 people.
“Rural communities can be served by private sector financing or other federal investments in rural water infrastructure, such as the Environmental Protection Agency’s State Revolving Funds,” the budget document states.
But there would then be higher demand for some of those funding alternatives, which wouldn’t necessarily see a significant jump under Trump’s proposal. The EPA’s State Revolving Funds program would increase by $4 million (less than 2 percent) to $2.3 billion. The Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act would remain at its current funding level of $20 million, a credit subsidy that could support as many as $1 billion in federal loans.
“It’s essentially level funding, which is surprising given his campaign said he wanted to triple the funding,” G. Tracy Mehan, head of government affairs for the American Water Works Association, told CNN.
“This demonstrates how blind the administration is to its rural constituency and the lack of knowledge of what is most effective in funding the majority of the nation’s water and wastewater infrastructure,” the National Rural Water Association said in a statement.