What We're Listening for During Tonight's State of the Union (hint: H2O Infrastructure)

Tonight President Donald Trump delivers his first formal State of the Union (SOTU) address before a joint session of Congress, with Supreme Court justices, Joint Chiefs of Staff and Cabinet members also in attendance.

While Article II, Section 3 of the United States Constitution mandates that the president “shall from time to time give to the Congress Information on the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient”, the SOTU also serves as a bully bullpit for a President's legislative agenda.

Embedded in tonight's speech will be many broad mentions that may tip the administration's hand on spending priorities. You can bet special interest groups will have their ears finely tuned for any nod that may indicate a potential green light for federal funding. The fact that there's such a thing as a State of the Union bingo card speaks volumes.

One of our favorite sub-topics of interest falls under the relatively wonky heading "infrastructure", with a specific focus on: 1) public water/wastewater infrastructure and 2) waterfront infrastructure related to commercial port operations. Nature is hard on waterfronts and continued maintenance and investment is necessary to keep maritime commerce flowing efficiently while maintaining (and enhancing) a region's quality of life. If you like healthy waterways to relax by or recreate on, you're for investments in H2O infrastructure like Northeast Ohio Sewer Districts' Project Clean Lake and Cleveland Water's Capital Improvement Program.

We have a special interest in both those subjects as we see the impact infrastructure has on a region's quality of life every time we're hanging out on or along Lake Erie or the Cuyahoga River. One hang-out turned into "Infrastructure Week on the Cuyahoga River (ride-along with St. Ed's Crew)".

Earlier this month Will Friedman, Pres. & CEO of The Port of Cleveland and Chairman elect of the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA), testified (along with other state and local water and natural resource organization officials) in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works hearing on America's water Infrastructure needs and challenges. Friedman joined the other witnesses in sharing their thoughts on the benefits of passing a new Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which would direct the Army Corps of Engineers to build infrastructure projects to improve navigation, flood control, hydropower, and environmental restoration. And the investment isn't peanuts: American ports have identified $66 billion in port-related infrastructure spending over the next 10 years in order to meet demands for safe, efficient movement of freight. The entire 108 minute hearing can be seen at this link, courtesy of C-SPAN: https://www.c-span.org/video/?439541-1/hearing-focuses-state-nations-water-infrastructure

We clipped a few short segments of Friedman's testimony and responses to questions from the Senators.

So when you watch tonight's State of the Union address, we hope you'll join us in pulling for specific mentions of, and federal investment in, waterfront infrastructure. Water: if you drink it, swim in it, work on it, live next to it, or play on it, you've got skin in tonight's game!

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