Communities across the state of New York will now be eligible for $200 million in state matching grants for clean water infrastructure over a three-year period. This new state initiative is known as the “New York State Water Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2015”. The program is part of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s strategy to address the funding gap for communities facing billions in backlogged water infrastructure projects. The state will allocate $50 million in the current budget, and $75 million in each of the next two.
“Establishing a long term funding mechanism to help municipalities overcome the significant financial hurdles of upgrading sewer infrastructure and providing clean water is a terrific win for all New Yorkers. Two hundred million dollars will allow more projects to advance, and [will] alleviate some of the financial burden from the local taxpayers,” said Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment.
Recently, numerous water and sewer service disruptions has shed light on a state, whose crumbling infrastructure has had severe consequences for communities across the state. The State of New York has estimated $75 billion in unmet clean water infrastructure needs over the next twenty years. In Monroe County, the municipality has experienced 312 water main breaks – in the just the first three months of the year. New York City has suffered at least 400 water main breaks in all but one year since 1998. As a result of these breaks and leaks, an astonishing 21 percent of water that enters distribution mains never reaches customers in the city, double the 10 – to 15 percent industry standard.
Under the terms of the program, the State will cover up to 60 percent of municipalities’ water and wastewater infrastructure project costs, with a cap of $5 million per project. The New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation (NYS EFC) will administer the program and will establish a process and timeframe under which municipalities can apply. Grant eligibility will be awarded to municipalities and projects that result in the greatest water quality improvement or greatest reduction in risk to the public health.
 Press Release, Riverkeeper: NY’s Clean Water Advocate, “Budget Agreement: $200 million in Drinking Water and Sewer Infrastructure Grants.”, http://www.riverkeeper.org/news-events/news/water-quality/budget-agreement-200-million-in-drinking-water-and-sewer-infrastructure-grants/
 Forman, Gotham Gazette, “Keeping the Water On: New York Must Address Infrastructure Costs.”, http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/5693-keeping-the-water-on-new-york-must-address-infrastructure-costs-de-blasio-forman