After months of anticipation, last
week President Obama finally signed The American Recovery and Reinvestment
Act. Known colloquially as the
“stimulus package,” the Act promises to deliver $787 billion in funds with the
purpose of shoring up our weakened economy through job creation and a variety of
other incentives and government programs.
For a country anxious about the
future and hungry for solutions, the hope is that the Act can breath new life
into struggling local economies.
With that in mind, many communities have spent the first months of 2009
tabulating and numbering their wants and needs. Will those wishes finally be fulfilled,
or will tangles of red tape and armies of lobbyists divert the funds away from
the very trouble spots that most desperately need help?
So far, the possibilities look
promising. First off, the Act
allocates $80.5 billion to repair and improve roads, bridges, mass transit, and
waterways. According to a statement
released by the EPA on February 19, $7.22 billion in stimulus money has already
been allocated for EPA-administered water projects, including $4 billion set
aside for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and the Drinking Water State
Revolving Fund (which helps communities deal with their water quality and
wastewater infrastructure needs).
An additional $2 billion has been earmarked for other drinking water
infrastructure projects under the same revolving fund, and a portion of that
funding is specifically set aside for “green” infrastructure, including water
and energy efficiency. Treatment
and cleanup command the final $1.22 billion, which has been allocated for
projects like industrial/commercial brownfields, superfund hazardous sites, and
leaking underground storage tanks.
Some information on how individual
states plan to handle their stimulus funds has already begun to make news. In Ohio for example, $59 million will be
used to improve drinking water infrastructure, while another $224 million will
be used for other clean water projects and programs. According to the EPA, Wyoming should
receive approximately $39 million in stimulus funds for a variety of water and
sewer projects. The EPA has also
stated that Illinois will receive
$258.5 million in stimulus money for local water projects. Utah has garnered $50 million in
stimulus funds, some of which will go to water projects in the state, while
Tennessee will receive $77 million for sewer and water treatment projects. So far, the big winner appears to be
Colorado, which is in line to receive about $1 billion in stimulus money. More information on specific payouts
will continue to trickle out over the next few days, and updates on
state-by-state distributions of the clean water and drinking water state
revolving funds will be available on the EPA Web site www.epa.gov/recovery.
Let us know what you think: Will
the stimulus package provide the funds needed to finally fix our aging
infrastructure, and promote and improve our water collection, treatment, and
delivery systems? Do you anticipate
seeing any direct effect in your own community? Or, are you skeptical that the stimulus
package will be able to deliver on all its promises?