ALBANY -- The state budget includes $2.5 billion over five years to improve New York's clean-water infrastructure.
The Clean Water Infrastructure Act, passed as part of the 2018-19 state budget, allocates the $2.5 billion toward assisting local governments with addressing water emergencies, paying for infrastructure construction projects and investigating and mitigating contaminants in drinking water.
“Cities in central New York like a lot of older cities in the state have been suffering with water pipes breaking literally, and it’s not sexy but it’s important and it’s expensive,” Cuomo said Wednesday in Syracuse.
“So we have $2.5 billion to help cities rebuild their water infrastructure.”
In January, Cuomo proposed a $2 billion water infrastructure fund. The Legislature increased it to $2.5 billion in the final budget.
Environmental groups praised the funding after New York dealt with a series of water-contamination crises in recent years, including in Hoosick Falls, Rensselaer County, and Newburgh in Orange County.
Municipalities in New York estimate they face a collective $800 million a year to repair and upgrade their water systems.
"After decades of underinvestment, New York is finally doing what's needed to fix its aging water infrastructure,” Paul Gallay, president of Riverkeeper, said in a statement. “New Yorkers from Montauk to Buffalo will soon have cleaner drinking water and healthier waterways to visit and enjoy, as a result.”
In the final budget, the Democratic governor also announced the continuation of $300 million annually for the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), which will be used to fund solid-waste programs, the state's parks and open-space efforts.
“With this investment, and a second year of record funding for the EPF, New York continues to lead the nation in conserving our vital natural resources while creating jobs and strengthening New York’s economy,” Jessica Ottney Mahar, policy director for The Nature Conservancy, said in a statement.
The budget also includes $150 million for an Intermunicipal Water Infrastructure Grant Program, which will provide aid for water projects if multiple communities submit a joint application, said Assemblyman Steve Otis, D-Greenburgh, Westchester County.
“Now municipalities will have the ability to apply jointly for the option that is of greatest benefit to local taxpayers in their respective communities,” Otis said in a statement.
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