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Tompkins County Calls for Increased Water Infrastructure Funding

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Tompkins County Calls for Increased Water Infrastructure Funding

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

The Tompkins County Legislature is urging Governor Cuomo and State Legislators to double down on the State’s current water infrastructure funding, through a resolution approved without dissent tonight. 

Created in 2015, the state’s Water Infrastructure Improvement Act (WIIA) has provided grants to municipalities across the state, enabling them to address their crumbling and outdated water mains, sewers, and wastewater treatment plants. Since 2017, WIIA has been funded through the Clean Water Infrastructure Act.

Legislator Deborah Dawson first introduced the resolution before the Legislature's Planning, Energy, and Environmental Quality Committee, which she chairs. “Providing clean water to residents is one of the most critical challenges we face as elected officials. We commend Governor Cuomo and the state Legislature for coming together in 2015 and acknowledging that our water infrastructure is the core of every community,” she said.  “But much more is needed to ensure every municipality in New York gets the financial assistance it needs to bring its water infrastructure up to standard. When clean water flows, businesses and families thrive.”

“The WIIA is a proven success. Here in Tompkins County alone, the program has helped villages like Trumansburg and Cayuga Heights as well as the town of Ulysses improve their water infrastructure. These upgrades simply wouldn’t happen without state grants. With billions needed statewide, it’s imperative that Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature secure a multi-year, multi-billion commitment in this year’s budget to help communities like ours address our water infrastructure needs,” states County Legislator Anna Kelles.

According to the resolution, “as an example of the prohibitive cost of local water and sewer infrastructure improvements, one of several wastewater treatment plants in Tompkins County currently needs an estimated $11.5 million in repairs and upgrades just to accommodate current demand without exceeding the Department of Environmental Conservation’s Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) limit.”

Environmental Advocates of New York released a report that shows that while the state’s WIIA is working, many shovel-ready clean water projects have still not received grant awards due to a lack of available funding.  They also noted that the state is facing an $80 billion need for drinking and wastewater infrastructure funding over the next 20 years.