Adam Krantz, National Association of Clean Water Agencies managing director of government and public affairs, says, “Obviously, we’re disappointed with the [EPA water] funding going down,” But he observes, “Clearly also it could have been worse.”
Krantz adds that many new or possible federal regulations affecting wastewater utilities make it increasingly hard for local agencies to meet their infrastructure needs.
He says, “Either we need a smarter approach to clean water or ultimately we do need more federal funding of a significant nature…the numbers we’re dealing with now are simply not big enough to deal with the need.”
The General Services Administration’s account that funds new federal-buildings construction was slashed 39%, leaving the program with only $50 million in 2012.
The GSA number is “another big disappointment for us,” says Marco Giamberardino, senior director of AGC’s federal and heavy construction division. “The needs are certainly out there,” he says, noting that the federal building inventory has more than 900 facilities that are nearly 50 years old.
Military construction funding also was cut back. The big drop in Base Realignment and Closure spending was no surprise, because the program, which started in 2005, is in its final stage. But other DOD work was trimmed, too.
Giamberardino says, “This is going to be a big gap, in terms of work for contractors who …specialize in DOD work but also for private-building contractors who have moved over to this market as a result of the downturn in the economy.” The DOD construction funding “has been a real lifeblood for some of these firms,” he says.
Not all programs went under the knife, however. Perhaps the biggest construction winner in the omnibus is the Army Corps of Engineers civil works program. Appropriators hiked civil works’ 2012 regular appropriations 5%, to slightly more than $5 billion.