APA-NYM joins coalition urging Gov. Cuomo to continue funding water infrastructure for 2017-2018
The APA-NYM chapter joined over 60 New York organizations in urging Governor Cuomo to continue funding water infrastructure by including at least $800 million in grant funding for water infrastructure projects in the proposed SFY2017-18 Executive Budget.
Please see the full letter below:
Hon. Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
New York State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224
November 16, 2016
Re: Grant funding for water infrastructure in the SFY2017-18 State Budget Dear Governor Cuomo:
We write to urge that you continue the recent progress on clean water infrastructure by including at least $800 million in grant funding for water infrastructure projects in your proposed SFY2017-18 Executive Budget. Additionally, with the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2015 (WIIA) due to sunset after SFY2017-18, we urge you to establish this crucial grant program as a permanent line item in the budget, as the need for this type of investment will never go away.
As you know, few issues are as important to our health, economy, and environment, as safe, reliable clean water infrastructure. Following the crisis in Flint, Michigan, as well as the many water contamination issues affecting New York, including lead in drinking water, and poorly regulated chemicals harming communities like Hoosick Falls, Newburgh, Petersburgh and elsewhere, water quality is now an issue on everyone’s minds.
Infrastructure investment is fundamental to a proactive strategy not only for providing clean drinking water, but also safe waters for swimming, boating, fishing and other recreational pursuits that support a high quality of life as well as many businesses. While water infrastructure investment alone cannot fix all of New York’s water quality concerns, taking action on this area is a key step to address various water quality issues statewide.
In recent years, your leadership, in partnership with state legislators has begun to reverse decades of inadequate investment. Resources first made available in the SFY2015-16 budget – and the subsequent doubling of the available funding within the WIIA program in the current budget – has made an enormous difference for communities who may not have otherwise had the means to repair and replace their degrading water infrastructure.
Water infrastructure investment provides good local jobs and a boost to the economy. The United States Conference of Mayors determined that each public dollar invested in water infrastructure increases private long-term Gross Domestic Product output by $6.35. The United States Department of Commerce has estimated that each job created in the local water and wastewater industry creates 3.68 jobs in the national economy and each public dollar spent yields $2.62 in economic output in other industries. These benefits are unlocked by the WIIA, which has effectively leveraged other sources of funding to put shovels in the ground.
However, despite the successes of the program, needs still far exceed available funding.
In the Environmental Facility Corporation’s (EFC) 2017 Draft Intended Use Plan (IUP), it is stated that “the demand for EFC’s financial assistance is higher than ever, in part due to the renewed focus on water infrastructure issues, and because of the recent enactment of the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2015.” It is expected that for 2017, EFC will only be able to meet 14 percent of the identified statewide demand.
To further that point, a publication recently released by the Construction Advancement Institute and the Construction Industry Council found that less than 30 percent of projects in the Hudson Valley that requested grant funding through WIIA received an award. Additionally, according to EFC data, statewide 50 percent of the projects with completed applications received grant funding. However, these statistics do not include the many communities that we know have water infrastructure needs but have not submitted an application yet.
Nearly every New York community is facing high infrastructure costs and, oftentimes, is spending scarce resources to repair their existing assets. Making the switch from paying only for repairs to paying for proper operations and maintenance is a necessary step if municipalities are going to get a handle on this growing problem, control costs and provide better value to ratepayers and the environment. Many municipalities have – or are attempting to – implement “asset management approaches” for their infrastructure, but capital investments are needed to leverage these efforts. We must begin to address our long-term problems with long-term solutions.
The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has identified over $36 billion in necessary wastewater infrastructure investments statewide over the next 20 years, and the Department of Health (DOH) has identified over $38 billion in drinking water infrastructure needs statewide over the next 20 years.
With your leadership, we have begun to make progress. Investing at least $800 million annually and ensuring WIIA is a permanent part of the state’s budget planning will set a national standard on how states prioritize a “right” to clean and healthy water.
We thank you for your commitment to this issue and consideration of our comments.
Director of Government Relations
Adirondack Mountain Club
Neil Woodworth Executive Director
American Planning Association – New York Metro Chapter
James Rausse, AICP
New York Open Water
David Barra Vice President
New York State City/County Management Association
New York Upstate Chapter of the American Planning Association
James Levy, AICP
Associated and General Contractors of New York State
President and CEO
Association of Towns of the State of New York
Audubon New York
Erin Crotty Executive Director
Bronx River Alliance
Veronica Vanterpool Chair
Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper
Executive Director and Riverkeeper
Building Contractors Association of Westchester, Mid-Hudson, Inc.
Capital District Regional Planning Commission
Casperkill Watershed Alliance
Catskill Creek Watershed Awareness Project
Coney Island Brighton Beach Open Water Swimmers
NRDC New York
New York Legislative Director
NY Rural Water Association
Chief Executive Officer
Executive Director, Baykeeper
New York Conference of Mayors
Peter A. Baynes Executive Director
New York League of Conservation Voters
Marcia Bystryn Executive Director
New York State Association of Counties
Stephen Acquario Executive Director
New York Water Environment Association
Joseph L. Fiegl, P.E. President
Daniel J. Gulizio Executive Director
Quassaick Creek Watershed Alliance
John Gebhards Coordinator
Ramapo River Watershed Intermunicipal Council
Janet Lee Burnett
Citizens Campaign for the Environment
Adrienne Esposito Executive Director
Construction Advancement Institute of Westchester & Mid-Hudson, Inc.
Ross J. Pepe
Construction Industry Council of Westchester & Hudson Valley
Ross J. Pepe
Dutchess County Water and Wastewater Authority
Environmental Advocates of New York
Water & Natural Resources Associate
Greater Stockport Creek Watershed Alliance
Historic Hudson River Towns, Inc.
Hudson River Boat and Yacht Club Assoc.
Hudson River Sloop Clearwater
Manna Jo Greene
Environmental Action Director
Rebuild NY Now
Rensselaer Land Trust, Inc.
Christine Young, Esq.
President and Hudson Riverkeeper
Roe Jan Watershed Community
Sarah Lawrence College Center for the Urban River at Beczak
Save The River / Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper
Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper and Executive Director
Save the Sound
Director of Western Sound Programs
Saw Kill Watershed Community
Eli Dueker, Ph.D.
Professor of Environmental and Urban Studies (EUS) and Biology at Bard College
Hudson River Watershed Alliance
Hudson River Watertrail Association
Hudson Valley Regional Council
Kromma Kill Watershed Alliance
Lake Champlain – Lake George Regional Planning Board
Long Island Pine Barrens Society
Lower Hudson Coalition of Conservation Districts
Mohawk River Watershed Alliance
New York City Soil and Water Conservation District
New York City Water Trail Association
Nancy Brous and Rob Buchanan
Steering Committee Members
Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter
Sparkill Creek Watershed Alliance
Stormwater Infrastructure Matters (S.W.I.M.) Coalition
Chair, Steering Committee
The Nature Conservancy in New York
Jessica Ottney Mahar
Upper Hudson River Watershed Coalition
Wallkill River Watershed Alliance
Wappinger Creek Intermunicipal Council