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Communities Need $12.7 Billion in State Aid to Protect Clean Water


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For Immediate Release: March 5, 2015

Riverkeeper: Cliff Weathers: 914-478-4501 x239
NYLCV Jordan Levine: 212-361-6350 x206
Environmental Advocates: Travis Proulx: 518-462-5526 x238
Adirondack Council: John Sheehan: 518-441-1340

Analysis highlights need for investment in drinking water and sewer systems

Albany – A new analysis released today by a coalition of organizations shows that across New York State, communities have an immediate documented need for $12.7 billion in clean water funding – impacting every single county across the state. The Senate and Assembly are now preparing their budget proposals and we urge them both to include $800 million or more dedicated for new clean water infrastructure grants.

In a year when a harsh winter has exposed the dangers of outdated infrastructure, the state has the chance to make a commonsense investment thanks to the $5+ billion in bank settlement resources. The need is obvious: Comptroller Tom DiNapoli has identified a gap in annual state spending of $800 million for wastewater and $300 million for drinking water, while the Department of Environmental Conservation in 2008 estimated the 20-year need for clean water and sewage infrastructure spending at $36 billion.

Clean water advocates, two dozen state senators, and local officials are all pushing for $800 million in new water infrastructure spending in the next state budget. To highlight the acute need, advocates released an analysis of applications to the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (administered by the Environmental Facilities Corporation) by region and county.

Of the $12.7 billion in aid requested, the Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC) reportedly plans to provide $757 million, primarily in no- and low-interest loans– just under 6%. According to the EFC’s 2015 Intended Use Plan:

  • Communities in every New York State county have requested aid for wastewater infrastructure.
  • Half the counties have 11 or more projects awaiting funding.
  • In half the counties the need for funding exceeds $48 million.
  • Communities in the average county need nearly $208 million for 15 projects.
  • Revenue is expected to run out before at least 245 eligible projects are funded, leaving more than $3.6 billion worth of work uncompleted. Hundreds of additional projects may go unfunded as available financing is exhausted.

Statistics about the need in each county and region are available below in the Summary Statistics. Some additional details about specific projects in each county and region are available on request. All regional data are divided by Department of Environmental Conservation regions.

Paul Gallay, President and Hudson Riverkeeper, said: “We simply can’t afford to let our water systems slide any further. We’re already on the brink of disaster due to deferred investment. If we don’t reverse the slide now, when resources are available, we’re essentially telling New York’s families to forget about clean drinking water and swimmable rivers, by the time the kids grow up.”

Patricia Cerro-Reehil, Executive Director of the New York Water Environment Association, an organization of industry water environmental professionals, said: “In New York State, there are over 600 wastewater treatment facilities that serve 1,610 municipalities, providing wastewater treatment for more than 15 million people across the state. Our essential water and sewer infrastructure must be brought to the attention of the general public and our elected officials. Many of these critical assets that exist (above and below ground) are at risk, and we need to act now.”

Liz Moran, Water and Natural Resources Associate at Environmental Advocates of New York, said: “One of the foremost responsibilities of government is to provide access to safe drinking water and sewers that don’t contaminate waterways and compromise public health. Local governments cannot go it alone — municipalities have no way of paying for growing clean water infrastructure needs. These investments are integral to community safety, morale, and the ability to attract new economic development. We are confident that legislators and Governor Cuomo will come together to craft a final budget that provides $800 million for our communities to get to work fixing our pipes.”

William C. Janeway, Executive Director of the Adirondack Council, said: “The Adirondack Council appreciates that the Governor, Senate and Assembly are all talking about how New York funds clean water infrastructure grants, and protects public health and the environment, while supporting smart community focused economic development.”

Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said: “Our water infrastructure crisis gets worse every year. Closed beaches, restricted shellfish beds, polluted waters, public health impacts, and emergency repair work all costs us money and degrades our quality of life. Municipalities across our state are crying out for funding assistance for critical upgrades and essential expansions of sewage infrastructure, and now the state is in the position to answer this cry. Funding water infrastructure is a basic necessity and we are hopeful that our state leaders will direct funds to address this crisis.”

Marcia Bystryn, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters, said: “New York is in dire need of $800 million to support our crumbling wastewater infrastructure next year alone. Yet the only money available for this purpose in the budget is through an economic development competition, pitting municipalities against each other for a fraction of their actual needs. How can these cities and towns prosper when they’re dealing with literally hundreds of wastewater main breaks a year, threatening shorelines and our water supplies? They can’t and they simply don’t have the funds to solve the problem themselves. The state must step in.”
Summary Statistics

Unfunded Wastewater Infrastructure Projects for 2015, by Region*

* The “Intended Use Plan – Annual List” identifies eligible projects that could be funded if 250% of available money were spent. This list table summarizes only eligible projects that would still not be funded, even if 250% of available money were spent.

Total Requested Aid for Wastewater, by Region

Total Requested Aid for Wastewater, by County

For reference, this map shows the counties

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