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Niagara Falls Water Board, lawmakers disagree on sewer grant applications

The two Republicans who represent Niagara Falls in the State Legislature recently criticized the Niagara Falls Water Board for not applying for state infrastructure grants, but the board chairman denied the charge.

Sen. Robert G. Ortt and Assemblyman Angelo J. Morinello said the board hasn't asked for help from a $2.5 billion state infrastructure fund to address sewage discharges into the Niagara River.

"We have applied for all the grants we could possibly apply for. We are searching for every possible penny," Water Board Chairman Daniel T. O'Callaghan responded.

Ortt's appointee to the board, Colleen Larkin, said she was unaware of that, and Morinello said the Water Board had not informed him or Ortt of any such applications.

A Water Board spokesman said the board hasn't applied for grants for "shovel-ready projects," because it has none yet. Ortt contended that restriction wouldn't apply in Niagara Falls' situation.

The board said there's three active grants it has received from the state Dormitory Authority.

Two, totaling $675,000, paid for emergency generators at the waterwater treatment plant and a sewer lift station. Also, there was a $70,000 grant for flow control improvements at one of the sediment basins in the sewage plant.

Also, the board was approved two weeks ago for a $240,000 grant toward the replacement of a water main on Bollier Avenue.

Ortt acknowleged that the deadline to apply this year for a cut of the $2.5 billion has passed, but he said there will be another application period in each of the next four years.

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