Blogs > The Watchdog > NY Has the Largest Need for Clean Water Infrastructure in U.S.

NY Has the Largest Need for Clean Water Infrastructure in U.S.

The need for investment in clean water infrastructure in New York State is the largest in the United States, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Watersheds Survey, released January 13. The comprehensive national survey relies on 2012 data submitted by each state about the need for investments in sewage treatment, pipes, pump stations and other wastewater infrastructure that is critical for preventing water pollution.

Overall, New York State’s documented need is $31.4 billion, 11.6% of the national total.

New York City dominates the statewide need, with $24.7 billion in documented costs (nearly 80% of statewide need, and 9% of national need). Counties in the Hudson River Watershed outside of New York City have a documented need for $2.5 billion in wastewater investments. (Hudson, Bergen and Sussex counties in New Jersey, which drain partially to the Hudson River Watershed, require another $5.7 billion.)

Among states, New York has the highest need for investment in secondary wastewater treatment, new conveyance systems (such as pipes and pump stations) and treatment systems in communities with fewer than 10,000 people. New York has the second highest need for conveyance system repairs.

Break down this jargon and it shows that we have aging sewage treatment plants and leaky pipes that are failing to prevent sewage from polluting the waters where we swim, boat and fish.

We have the third highest need in the nation for investments to reduce combined sewer overflows and to reduce pollution from stormwater.

In other words, when it rains, huge volumes of sewage and runoff laced with oils, grease and other contaminants flood the waters where we swim, boat and fish.

Riverkeeper and a coalition of like-minded organizations were gratified to see Gov. Andrew Cuomo increase spending on wastewater in his administration’s proposed state budget. Under the Governor’s proposal, an additional $50 million will be available in each of the next two years ($125 million per year in all) for community grants to fund drinking water and wastewater projects through the NYS Water Grants program established with our coalition’s advocacy in 2015. And a preliminary analysis shows that just under $12 million in additional statewide grant money will be available from the Environmental Protection Fund for clean water projects in municipalities and on farms ($48.5 million overall).

We’ll be working with the Legislature to increase these commitments as much as possible to narrow the gap in funding for projects to stop water pollution. The national survey also highlights the critical need for the federal government to reinvest in wastewater infrastructure; federal funding has declined 70%.

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