News > News > Water Quality > Cuomo shows renewed commitment to investing in New York’s water infrastructure

Cuomo shows renewed commitment to investing in New York’s water infrastructure

For Immediate Release
January 5, 2016

Contact: Cliff Weathers, Communications Director
914-478-4501, ext. 239

Good news for clean water, as governor proposes additional $50 million in water infrastructure spending for both 2016 and 2017.

Clean water investment comes in addition to $125 million boost for Environmental Protection Fund.

Ossining, NY — Gov. Cuomo ‘s proposed budget has good news for clean water. On top of a $125 million boost to the Environmental Protection Fund, the Governor announced an increase of $50 million for the popular new water infrastructure grants program.

While the need for investments in water infrastructure is far greater, this is a significant and positive step.

In all, the New York State Water grants program will fund $325 million over its first three years. It was established by the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2015, after advocacy by Riverkeeper and a coalition of organizations. (The first round of $75 million in grants was announced in December, and under the Governor’s proposal, $125 million will be spent in each of the next two years, an increase of $50 million per year. The first round of grants resulted in an increase of approximately 30% in grant spending for water quality improvement projects in the Hudson River Watershed.)

The Environmental Protection Fund pays for a variety of important projects, including critical investments to reduce water pollution from farms, sewers and stormwater systems.

Together, these proposals represent an important investment in clean water, a priority shared by New York State voters, according to recent polling showing 70 percent of voters support environmental spending, and their top priorities are protecting clean water and rebuilding failing water infrastructure. Riverkeeper and a coalition of organizations have advocated for increases to both the Environmental Protection Fund and NYS Water Grants.

“Investments in water infrastructure not only help clean up our water, but support community character and local property values,” says Riverkeeper President Paul Gallay. “We know acutely how important these investments are, as we’ve documented water pollution with concerning frequency in the Hudson River and its tributaries. The new spending proposed today will narrow the gap in spending needed to give us what the public wants and expects — water that’s safe to drink and safe for our children to play in.”

The Department of Environmental Conservation has estimated the need for wastewater infrastructure at $36 billion over two decades, while Department of Health has estimated the need for drinking water infrastructure at nearly $39 billion. Failing to meet this need has resulted in water main breaks and sewer overflows and leaks, harmed property values and inhibited sustainable economic development.

“Costs for water infrastructure upgrades will only grow the longer they are delayed. Riverkeeper and its coalition partners are seeking to address the need by proposing an $800 million annual investment in vital infrastructure, and we will work with the Governor and Legislature to achieve that goal in the upcoming budget,” says Gallay. “The increased commitment by the Cuomo administration is a positive sign, but there’s still a long way to go to overcome actual infrastructure deficiencies. We look forward to finding ways to support our lawmakers in recognizing the urgent need for our communities.”

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