News > News > Climate Impacts > Senator Rachel May, Assemblymember Emily Gallagher, State Legislators, and Advocates unite to push for Rain Ready NY, safeguarding New Yorkers from climate change-fueled floods

Senator Rachel May, Assemblymember Emily Gallagher, State Legislators, and Advocates unite to push for Rain Ready NY, safeguarding New Yorkers from climate change-fueled floods

Albany, NY – Today, as the State Senate is scheduled to vote on Rain Ready New York, Senator Rachel May, Assemblymember Emily Gallagher, and elected officials representing districts from across the state gathered to call for the urgent passage of Rain Ready NY, a bill to help the state address extreme flooding from rainfall.

At the press conference, State Senator Rachel May, Assemblymember Emily Gallagher, Senator Zellnor Myrie, Assemblymember Steven Raga, Riverkeeper and environmental advocates called on both houses of the State Legislature to prioritize the passage of Rain Ready NY before the end of the legislative session.

Extreme precipitation events are expected to become more intense and increasingly frequent across the state. New York City, in particular, is facing the harmful impacts of heavy rainfall, leading to severe flooding that blocks roads, inundates subways, damages property, and disrupts daily life.

Rain Ready NY, which clarifies the powers of water and sewer authorities throughout the state to manage stormwater and adopt climate resiliency policies, has gained broad support from elected officials and utilities statewide. The bill’s supporters include the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens Borough Presidents, Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, the Buffalo Sewer Authority, the Western New York Stormwater Coalition, and a majority of the NYC Council.

Despite strong support, the bill has not been added to a committee agenda in the Assembly. In the Senate, it was passed unanimously out of the Senate Corporations, Authorities and Commissions Committee and is headed to the floor for a vote.

“Every county in the state has had a severe flooding event in the past 10 years. This is the one statistic that clearly demonstrates the need for this bill to ensure every authority in the state can incentivize and implement smart stormwater management within their communities. We must make New York “Rain Ready” with this legislation,” said Senator Rachel May (D-Onondaga, Cayuga).

Assemblymember Emily Gallagher, along with Senator May, and Riverkeeper’s Senior Manager of Government Affairs, Jeremy Cherson, alerted legislators to the state’s need for climate-resilient legislation that will help the state manage extreme floods resulting from increased heavy rainfall. They call for the passage of Rain Ready NY before the end of the legislative session to ensure New Yorkers are protected from the damaging effects of climate change.

“On September 29, 2023, I received frantic calls as rain overwhelmed our infrastructure, flooding apartments near McCarren Park. This isn’t rare—NYC’s sewer system handles only 1.75 inches of water per hour, yet we had five storms exceeding that in 2023. Our infrastructure can’t cope,” said Assemblymember Emily Gallagher (D- Greenpoint, Williamsburg) We need green, resilient solutions statewide, but local authorities often lack the tools. That’s why Senator May and I introduced Rain Ready NY, a bill to empower local responses without imposing solutions. If you want 21st-century infrastructure and storm preparedness, we must pass Rain Ready NY now.”

Jeremy Cherson, Senior Manager of Government Affairs said, “Climate change is causing more frequent and intense rain events, which are projected to become even more severe this century. The extreme flooding from heavy rains produces significant stormwater runoff that floods streets and subways, destroys homes, and causes sewer overflows, releasing raw sewage into our waterways. Rain Ready NY clarifies the authority of water and sewer agencies to manage stormwater and incentivizes local infrastructure that absorbs excess rain. This enables utilities statewide to determine the most effective ways to protect their communities and reduce stormwater runoff. Umbrellas and rain jackets won’t be enough. New York must get Rain Ready by passing this climate-resilience legislation today.”

David Ansel, vice president of water protection for Save the Sound: “The purpose of this bill is straightforward: it clarifies and confirms that water and sewer authorities in New York State that are already managing wastewater also have the authority to manage stormwater in ways that are best for their communities. That could include the use of green infrastructure and nature-based solutions, which help filter pollutants from stormwater runoff before it enters our waterways in the Long Island Sound region and across New York State. It is critically important that authorities are aware that they have the discretion to manage stormwater runoff pollution, considering the growing magnitude of the problem due to the frequency and severity of rain events as a consequence of climate change.”

“New York must get Rain Ready, now. Extreme rainfall events across the entire state have demonstrated the need to act quickly and boldly to address the growing flood risk that communities are experiencing regularly. There should be no legal ambiguity for our local sewer and water authorities to manage stormwater and sewage. Waterfront Alliance calls on the Legislature to pass the Rain Ready NY Act in this session. Let there not be another climate disaster that reminds us to take action,” said Tyler Taba, Director of Resilience, Waterfront Alliance.

“All over the world, regions are changing their water governance to make people and places safer as climate change worsens both droughts and storms. This requires transforming infrastructure to cushion the blow of extreme weather events. But this imperative doesn’t just mean big infrastructure, but also smaller scale changes that include increases to micro-drainage, more porous concrete, stream and river management, hyperlocal rainwater capture. These sophisticated interventions are curricula both to enhance resiliency in general, and to protect people in their communities and homes from increasing weather extremes. Assembly Member Gallagher’s bill is an essential piece of legislation to modernize New York’s water governance in line with the best practices emerging worldwide,” said Daniel Aldana Cohen, Assistant Professor of Sociology, specialist in urban climate governance.

Media Contact:
Lewis Kendall
[email protected]
914-478-4501 ext. 238

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