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NYS: 'Transformative,' $479 million investment for 156 local water infrastructure projects in every region


Tue, Dec 12th 2023 02:35 pm

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced $479 million in grants for critical water infrastructure projects, including the first funding awarded through the $4.2 billion Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act of 2022, which was passed by voters after Hochul pushed to increase the total amount by $1 billion upon taking office. 

Hochul’s team said, “New York state is empowering municipalities by providing the financial resources necessary to undertake water quality projects crucial to safeguarding public health, protecting the environment, bolstering communities’ climate readiness, and promoting economic development. The funding announced today is projected to save local ratepayers an estimated $1.3 billion and create 24,000 jobs across the state.” 

The grants are awarded by the New York State Environmental Facilities Corp., in coordination with the Department of Health and Department of Environmental Conservation, and are part of the state's commitment to modernize aging water and sewer systems.

"No one in New York should ever fear that they don't have access to clean water," Hochul said. "We are reassuring communities across New York that your kids, grandkids and great-grandkids will always have access to clean and safe water. This investment will make lifesaving improvements to our water infrastructure and safeguard drinking water for millions of people, in addition to saving New Yorkers money and creating tens of thousands of jobs."

The grants include nearly $450 million awarded through the state's water infrastructure improvement (WIIA) and intermunicipal grant (IMG) programs. Funding for this round is made possible with $249 million from Hochul’s commitment to water quality infrastructure, and $200 million from the Environmental Bond Act. The WIIA and IMG programs were named as tools in the voter-approved Bond Act to help leverage funding for water quality and resilient infrastructure improvements.

The complete list of WIIA and IMG awardees, including an interactive map and projects by region, is available on the Environmental Facilities Corp. (EFC) website.

An additional $30 million is being made available via the DEC and EFC to targeted counties through the state’s septic system replacement program. These grants support home and small business owners with funding for “more environmentally effective systems.”

Environmental Facilities Corp. President and CEO Maureen A. Coleman said, “New York state is bringing new investment, modern infrastructure, and good-paying jobs to communities, with over half the funding announced today benefitting disadvantaged communities and environmental justice areas. One of the main components of the Bond Act is providing significant funding for water infrastructure. Pairing state investments with Bond Act funding for this enhanced round of grants will help ensure taps are delivering safe drinking water to New Yorkers, and that wastewater facilities continue to protect the environment and can withstand the impacts of climate change.”

EFC administers the WIIA and IMG programs working closely with DOH and DEC. EFC collected public comment on draft eligibility criteria starting in March and solicited applications for eligible projects this summer, including outreach during the statewide Bond Act listening sessions.

With today’s announcement, local governments will be able to access project funding to advance Bond Act priorities of water quality protection, climate change readiness, resiliency, and green job creation.

Award Highlights 

Disadvantaged communities will benefit from 62% of Bond Act funding, amounting to $123 million, surpassing the state goal of 40%.  

Additionally, EFC awarded $111 million in WIIA/IMG funds to projects that will advance environmental justice.

New York state is awarding more than $214 million through WIIA and Environmental Bond Act funding to improve drinking water systems. 

Municipalities across the state will receive grants for projects that include construction of new water mains, water tower upgrades, system extensions and emerging contaminant treatments. 

An example of a drinking water project that was awarded grants:

•Niagara Falls Water Board is receiving $5 million in Bond Act funding for system improvements including replacement of several aged water mains throughout the City of Niagara Falls; a new storage tank to replace an aged tank that is currently out of service; and roof, filter and chemical system upgrades at the water treatment plant. The project will provide critical finished water storage redundancy and improve pressure and flow throughout the water system.  

The state is awarding more than $164 million through WIIA and Environmental Bond Act funding for wastewater improvement projects that will improve water quality and reduce potential risks to public health and the environment. 

Examples of these projects include:

•Town of Bath in Steuben County (Southern Tier) is being awarded $1.2 million in Bond Act funding to construct a new collection system at Salubria Lake to address harmful algae blooms (HABs).  

•Erie County is receiving a $17 million WIIA grant for upgrades at the Southtowns Advanced Wastewater Treatment Facility to prepare for future expansion.  

The state is awarding $69 million in Environmental Bond Act funding through intermunicipal grants to two drinking water projects and a sewer project for communities that are working together to improve their systems.

The state is awarding $30 million through the septic system replacement program to target water quality and protection of public health.  

The program improves water quality by encouraging and incentivizing homeowners' replacement of cesspools and failing or inadequate septic systems around a waterbody known to be impaired by septic system discharges. DEC and DOH identified priority geographic areas where property owners are eligible to participate based on the presence of a sole-source aquifer used for drinking water, known water quality impairment linked to failing septic systems, and/or the ability for septic system upgrades to mitigate water quality impairments. This newest funding builds upon a total of $60 million in grants administered to date and adds up to 19 new counties eligible for septic replacement grants.

Hochul’s team further noted, “New York state will provide funds to counties to reimburse eligible property owners for a portion of the cost of replacing cesspools and septic systems. Eligible property owners can be reimbursed 50% of eligible costs up to $10,000. Counties may also set graduated incentive reimbursement rates for septic system projects to maximize program participation and pollution reduction goals.”

With today’s funding announcement, eligibility will be finalized and shared once available at https://efc.ny.gov/septic-replacement.

DEC Commissioner and Environmental Facilities Corp. Board Chair Basil Seggos said, “Gov. Hochul continues to prioritize the protection of New York’s water quality, and today’s exciting announcement awarding the first tranche of Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act funding for water infrastructure demonstrates the state’s sustained commitment to investing in communities statewide. By providing nearly $450 million in grants to municipalities in addition to $30 million to help homeowners replace failing septic systems and cesspools, the state’s investments water infrastructure are instrumental in ensuring clean drinking water and restoring natural resources.”

Department of Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said, “This latest round of grant funding, and the very first under the Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act of 2022, reaffirms Gov. Hochul’s commitment to the health and wellbeing of all New Yorkers by providing resources to every area of New York state, helping municipalities to improve their water infrastructure, and ensure they can provide clean drinking water to their communities for generations to come.”

Executive Director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment Adrienne Esposito said, “Clean water is the holiday gift everyone loves! State funding for upgrading our sewer infrastructure, filtering toxic chemicals from drinking water, and septic replacement programs is critically needed, abundantly welcomed, and strongly supported by the public. Much of our sewage infrastructure is old and inadequate for today’s demands. State funding for upgrading crumbling infrastructure not only protects drinking and coastal water resources, but also prevents public health risks when pipes break or systems fail. We are thankful and appreciative that Gov. Hochul understands our water infrastructure is a top priority. This significant funding has real meaning for our health, our environment, and our sustainability.”

Any community that needs help with their water infrastructure needs is encouraged to contact EFC at http://www.efc.ny.gov/CAT.

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