$2.5 billion of the 2017-18 state budget will be allocated to protecting clean drinking water through the repair and replacement of old pipes and water mains, as well as preventive measures like source water land acquisition, which aids in preventing pollution.
"We should never have to worry that the water coming out of our faucets and drinking fountains is anything but safe for our children," said Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr
. "Contaminated, dirty water can have devastating long-term effects, causing illnesses and hurting development, and we need to prevent that. We have to be proactive on something this important."
Funding for water infrastructure will include $1 billion for the 2015 Water Infrastructure Improvement Act to help municipalities upgrade their drinking and wastewater infrastructure; $350 million for clean water infrastructure projects after 2021; $245 million for water quality improvement projects; $150 million for inter-municipal water infrastructure grants; $130 million for drinking water remediation and mitigation of contaminated drinking water; $110 million for land acquisition projects for source water
protection; $100 million for municipal water quality infrastructure programs; $75 million for upgrades and replacements of septic systems and cesspools; $50 million for green infrastructure projects; $50 million for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs); $20 million for the replacement of lead drinking water service lines; $10 million for a water infrastructure emergency loan fund; and $10 million for IT system upgrades related to mapping technologies.
The funding, which is a $500 million increase from the executive's proposal, shows the State's commitment to updating outdated infrastructures. "Clean water is absolutely essential to our health and safety," said Assemblyman Thiele. "New York is full of communities that have outdated water infrastructure. We've seen way too many water main breaks and drinking water contaminations that threaten the health of our families. It's important that we make robust investments in replacing old pipes and water mains."
Additionally, the budget will help establish a drinking water quality council within the Department of Health that will be responsible for making recommendations on issues surrounding water contamination and testing with feedback from stakeholders and the public. It will also enact an Emerging Contaminant Monitoring program that will detect emerging contaminants in public water systems, as well as establish testing and notification requirements. It would ensure that drinking water is tested on a regular basis for known contaminants such as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), and also emerging contaminants, and if a contaminant is found that the necessary steps are taken to keep residents safe.
"They say that water is the building block of life," Assemblyman Thiele noted. "When it comes to something that important, we can't afford to skimp on our investments."
$300 million of the budget will be used for the Environmental Protection Fund, which will include dedicated funding for environmental justice programs that will aid low-income communities impacted by pollution.
"The water that we drink and cook with simply must be clean," Assemblyman Thiele concluded.
Nicole is the Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com where she focuses on lifestyle, nightlife, and mixology. She grew up in the Hamptons and currently resides in Water Mill. www.hamptons.com