CWWA Letter to Prime Minister: COVID-19 Stimulus Funding
As the federal government prepares to announce stimulus infrastructure programs to promote recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, CWWA and our Climate Change Committee has provided timely input to highlight opportunities for our sector.
The federal government has indicated that a stimulus infrastructure package can be expected to help boost the economy as we come out of the pandemic situation. CWWA wrote to the Prime Minister and relevant ministers to highlight the importance and opportunity presented by investing in municipal infrastructure, especially in the water and wastewater sector.
But our major recommendations were:
- Fund the critical water and wastewater infrastructure sector for a minimum 3-year period: Funding should be allocated in such a manner that essential water, wastewater, stormwater, and flooding needs are not crowded out by mega scale projects. Allocation of a portion of funds specifically to the water and wastewater sector is one way to accomplish this. Extending funding for a minimum 3-year period also helps small and medium size municipalities who have smaller projects but often have different struggles with construction timeframes and staff resources to manage infrastructure projects.
- Fund Shovel-Ready and “Shovel-Worthy” projects: We request that stimulus funding be widened so that it can be applied to supporting studies, design, and data collection, to bring much needed projects from “shovel-worthy” to “shovel-ready”. Eligible studies should include types of studies which result in financial sustainability and risk reduction such as rate and financial studies, efficiency and optimizations studies, and master planning studies.
Data-based decisions are key to strategic infrastructure planning and renewal. We request that stimulus funding also be widened to invest in municipal data collection systems and analytics.
Most studies and designs can be initiated immediately, even while physical distancing is in place. The funding of studies, designs, and data collection will ensure a larger list of well-planned, shovel-ready projects and economic stimulus for years to come.