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Hudson Valley small businesses speak out for clean water

For immediate release:
December 21, 2016
Contact: Cliff Weathers, Communications Director
914-478-4501, ext. 239; cweathers@riverkeeper.org

Breweries, kayak outfitters and other small businesses that rely on high quality water sign letter urging Gov. Cuomo to invest in clean water programs

Ossining, NY — Small businesses that rely on clean water have banded together to urge New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to expand programs to protect and restore water quality.

Nineteen breweries, kayak outfitters, tour boat operators and other businesses signed a letter mailed today that urges the Governor to expand the New York State Water Infrastructure Improvement Act, and to renew the state’s Drinking Source Water Protection program.

These programs invest in both “gray” infrastructure and “natural” infrastructure. Gray infrastructure investments will upgrade aging drinking water and sewer system pipes, pump stations and treatment plants. Natural infrastructure investments will protect and restore streams, forests and open spaces that naturally filter water.

These programs are not only critical for protecting drinking water and the environment, but for supporting the Hudson Valley’s $5.2 billion tourism economy.

In today’s letter, the businesses wrote: “Our businesses rely on high quality public water supplies to produce our products, or healthy watersheds for safe recreation. Water Infrastructure and Drinking Source Water Protection are fundamental elements of a proactive strategy for providing high quality water for drinking, beverage and food production, swimming, boating, fishing and many other pursuits that make our state a great place to live and do business.”

Dan Shapley, Riverkeeper’s Water Quality Program Director, said: “We all need clean water, and our small businesses are no exception. Whether making beer or bread, or showcasing our world class scenery by kayak, tube or tour boat, these businesses know that high quality water is the basis for their success.”

About the New York State Water Infrastructure Improvement Act

Established in 2015, Water Infrastructure Improvement Act grants are robustly supported by a diverse coalition of more than 60 interest groups statewide – 60% of them with a focus in Hudson River Watershed. The coalition has support from environmental, municipal, planning, construction and recreational interests, and is calling for the Governor and Legislature to continue support of this popular grants program, by boosting annual investments to $800 million.

The small businesses that signed the attached letter have not previously been part of this statewide coalition, and represent a new voice for clean water.

The need for investments in wastewater infrastructure alone in Hudson River Watershed counties exceeds $2.5 billion. In 2016, wastewater infrastructure with total project costs of $284.7 million were initiated in the Hudson River Watershed, thanks to the leverage catalyzed by Water Infrastructure Improvement Act grants.

About Drinking Source Water Protection

The Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments of 1996 established a national Drinking Source Water Protection program, and resulted in the creation of risk assessments for New York State public drinking water systems, summarized in systems’ annual drinking water quality reports. Statewide, there are more than 1,500 water systems serving cities, villages and towns, and more than 1,700 serving mobile home parks, apartment complexes and residential institutions such as nursing homes.

In New York State, both the Department of Health and Department of Environmental Conservation have roles in protecting drinking source waters. A new statewide Drinking Source Water Protection Program would be consistent with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s November 2016 Drinking Water Action Plan, and can be built on the state’s current work in the City of Newburgh to update the city’s Source Water Assessment with a comprehensive management plan that will prioritize strategies for eliminating threats to water quality.

Riverkeeper is calling on the Governor to fund Drinking Source Water Protection at $17 million.

About Riverkeeper

Riverkeeper is a member-supported watchdog organization dedicated to defending the Hudson River and its tributaries and protecting the drinking water supply of nine million New York City and Hudson Valley residents. Since its beginnings as the Hudson River Fishermen’s Association 50 years ago, Riverkeeper has helped to establish globally recognized standards for waterway and watershed protection and serves as the model and mentor for the growing Waterkeeper movement that includes more than 290 Keeper programs across the country and around the globe.

Attached is the letter sent to Governor Cuomo’s office.

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