Share this article

print logo

Clean water bill called 'once-in-a-generation investment' for state

New York State's record-spending clean water infrastructure bill will tackle projects from new water and sewer lines for cities to a new septic system at a rural house.

The $2.5 billion for big and small projects will go a long way to improve the quality of lakes, streams and rivers, state legislators said Monday.

Members of the Western New York State Legislative delegation, who gathered at Canalside Monday, praised the bill that was included in the state budget. They said no one was against increasing the governor's proposal by $500 million.

"Clean water is a bipartisan issue," said Assemblyman Sean M. Ryan, D-Buffalo. "This is an area where there are not Republicans, and there are no Democrats. We all like clean water coming into our house."

Sen. Christopher L. Jacobs, R-Buffalo, said the majority of sewage overflows in the state occur in Erie County. The 2017 Water Infrastructure Improvement Act includes $1 billion to help municipalities upgrade their drinking and wastewater infrastructure.

The funding will repair and replace old pipes and water mains, as well as help protect source water before it gets into the pipes, and identify emerging problems with water quality.

Jacobs said clean water is an economic tool, and reliable water service is an important commodity for manufacturing and industry.

"We are making tremendous strides in capitalizing on the tourism and recreational value of that water," Jacobs said. "Old and decrepit infrastructure prone to costly leaks and breaks is a disincentive to private sector investment."

The finding, in the form of grants and loans, will be funneled through the state Department of Environmental Conservation, Ryan said.

It includes:

  • $1 billion to upgrade drinking and sewer infrastructure
  • $350 million for clean water infrastructure projects after 2021
  • $245 million for water quality improvement projects
  • $200 million for drinking and wastewater infrastructure improvements in New York City’s watershed
  • $150 million for intermunicipal water infrastructure grants
  • $130 million for drinking water remediation and mitigation of contaminated drinking water
  • $110 million for land acquisition projects for source water protection
  • $100 million for municipal water quality infrastructure programs
  • $75 million for upgrades and replacements of septic systems and cesspools
  • $50 million for green infrastructure projects
  • $50 million for concentrated animal feeding operations
  • $20 million for the replacement of lead drinking water service lines
  • $10 million for a water infrastructure emergency loan fund
  • $10 million for IT system upgrades related to mapping technologies

"It's a real once-in-a-generation investment," Ryan said. "We're going to make this investment now, but we're not going to see the fruits of that for five, 10, 15 years."

The details of the program and how to apply are still being determined, he said.

"I'm looking forward to helping the municipality work toward getting some of the funds," said Assemblywoman Monica P. Wallace, D-Lancaster.

Jill M. Jedlicka, executive director of Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, said her group has been preparing for many years for the day that funding would come through, particularly with Scajaquada Creek.

"We've been doing the hard work behind the scenes, what we call the unsexy work of doing the assessments, the planning, the design, the research, all that needs to come together to position yourself and access these funds," she said.

"It's not going to hit the streets tomorrow. We plan on this being a multi-year funding process," Ryan said. "Communities have to come together with plans, to figure out what their needs are."

Story topics:

There are no comments - be the first to comment