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Hochul awards $166 million in grants to 187 water quality projects across state


Fri, Feb 16th 2024 12:15 pm

$101 million awarded to projects benefitting environmental justice communities

√ Says funding to modernize aging water infrastructure, mitigate climate change, combat harmful algal blooms, protect drinking water, and prevent potential contamination

√ EFC to remove population threshold, allowing larger municipalities to compete for hardship financing

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced more than $166 million is being awarded to 187 projects to improve water quality across the state. Her team said, “The grants support projects that will help protect drinking water, update aging water infrastructure, combat contributors to harmful algal blooms, and improve aquatic habitat in communities statewide. More than $101 million of the funding will support water quality improvements for environmental justice communities, which have been disproportionately impacted by environmental pollution.”

Hochul said, “New York’s record investments in water quality continue to protect New Yorkers' health, the economy, and quality of life. Communities across the state will benefit from this critical water infrastructure funding, which will protect water quality, prevent pollution and improve habitats."

More than $146 million is being awarded to 81 projects through the Water Quality Improvement Project (WQIP) grant program administered by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. The WQIP grant program supports projects that will directly improve water quality or aquatic habitat, promote flood risk reduction, restoration, and enhanced flood and climate resiliency, or protect a drinking water source.

An additional $2 million is being awarded to 35 projects through the Non-Agricultural Nonpoint Source Planning and Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System Mapping Grant (NPG) to fund projects that help pay for the initial planning of non-agricultural nonpoint source water quality improvement projects, such as undersized culvert replacements and green infrastructure technologies, and state permit-required storm sewer mapping in urban areas.

The press release added, “These projects will reduce the amount of polluted stormwater runoff entering lakes, rivers and streams, and improve resiliency against the impacts of climate change.”

The state is awarding $18 million through the Green Innovation Grant Program (GIGP) and Engineering Planning Grants (EPG) administered by the Environmental Facilities Corp. (EFC). Of that, $15 million in GIGP will support projects that help mitigate the effects of climate change in environmental justice communities. An additional $3 million in EPG will help 61 municipalities develop engineering reports to support their efforts to better leverage state and federal funding and advance fiscally sound and well-designed projects to construction.

EFC also announced it is removing the 300,000-population threshold as part of the hardship financing eligibility criteria. Hochul’s team noted, “Removing the threshold will allow larger municipalities to compete for hardship financing on clean water projects.”

To be eligible for the federal grant, the grant would need to be directed to benefit a specific disadvantaged community within the municipality. This change is proposed for the 2025 intended use plan that will account for how the state revolving funds are allocated during the federal fiscal year.

EFC President and CEO Maureen A. Coleman said, “Clean water is a right, not a privilege. We are steadfast in our commitment to protect and improve water quality in the communities that need it most by providing solutions that make projects affordable, while being well-designed and resilient to benefit generations to come.”

The WQIP awards include funding provided by the Long Island Sound Study. More than $5.8 million in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will support improvements of the Port Washington Water Pollution Control District’s treatment plant in Nassau County. The funding will be used to rehabilitate approximately 16,000 linear feet of gravity sewer main within its collection system to reduce sanitary sewer overflows.

WQIP projects include municipal wastewater treatment upgrades, non-agricultural nonpoint source abatement and control, land acquisition projects for source water protection, salt storage construction, vacuum trucks for municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) areas, aquatic connectivity restoration, and marine habitat restoration.

New York state continues to prioritize funding for projects that may help decrease the occurrence of harmful algal blooms (HABs). Nearly half of the WQIP and NPG awarded grants, totaling approximately $56 million, will support projects in watersheds known to have experienced HABs in the past five years and/or help implement a project identified in a DEC HABs action plan. The full list of awardees can be found at https://dec.ny.gov/get-involved/grant-applications/wqip-program. Of the 81 projects funded in this round that highlight the breadth and scope of WQIP awards, wastewater improvement project Buffalo Sewer Authority will receive $10 million for wastewater treatment infrastructure, combined sewer overflow/sanitary sewer overflow pollution reduction. Buffalo Sewer Authority will construct an underground storage tunnel along East Delavan Avenue to provide a minimum of 1.5 million gallons of offline storage. This project, identified in BSA’s long-term control plan, will reduce the discharge entering Scajaquada Creek from combined sewer overflows during periods of heavy rain and snow melt.

The full list of NPG awardees can be found at https://dec.ny.gov/get-involved/grant-applications/non-agricultural-nonpoint-source-planning-ms4-mapping-grant.

GIGP supports projects across the state that utilize green stormwater infrastructure design and green technologies. The full list of 10 projects is available at https://efc.ny.gov/gigp-2024.

Examples of awarded projects include Erie County, which will receive $3 million to install more than an acre of green roof on the central library located in the heart of the City of Buffalo. The county will modify the Central Library to incorporate a green roof and installation of solar panels to further promote sustainability. The project will reduce combined sewer overflows and improve the water quality of the Buffalo River and Lake Erie.

This round of EPG awards will fund engineering costs to help jumpstart planning for 61 sewer projects. The planning grants help communities prepare to apply for grants and financing through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) administered by EFC. Planning grants help fund the development of an engineering report, which is required in the EFC financing application process. The full list of awardees is available at https://efc.ny.gov/epg-2024.

WQIP is primarily supported by the state's Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) and Clean Water Infrastructure Improvement Act (CWIA); NPG is supported by the EPF; GIGP is supported by the CWSRF and EPG is supported by EFC administrative funding.

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