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
Executive Chamber
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.

Sincerely,

Adirondack Council
Kevin Chlad
Director of Government Relations

Adirondack Mountain Club
Neil Woodworth Executive Director

American Planning Association – New York Metro Chapter
James Rausse, AICP
President

New York Open Water
David Barra Vice President

New York State City/County Management Association
Jerry Faiella
Executive Director

New York Upstate Chapter of the American Planning Association
James Levy, AICP
Vice President

Associated and General Contractors of New York State
Mike Elmendorf
President and CEO

Association of Towns of the State of New York
Gerry Geist
Executive Director

Audubon New York
Erin Crotty Executive Director

Bronx River Alliance
Veronica Vanterpool Chair

Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper
Jill Jedlicka
Executive Director and Riverkeeper

Building Contractors Association of Westchester, Mid-Hudson, Inc.
Matthew Pepe
Executive Director

Capital District Regional Planning Commission
Rocco Ferraro
Executive Director

Casperkill Watershed Alliance
John Brandt
Program Coordinator

Catskill Creek Watershed Awareness Project
Liz LoGiudice
Coordinator

Coney Island Brighton Beach Open Water Swimmers
Capri Djatiasmoro
Co-Chair

NRDC New York
Richard Schrader
New York Legislative Director

NY Rural Water Association
Patricia Scalera
Chief Executive Officer

NY/NJ Baykeeper
Debbie Mans
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

Peconic Baykeeper
Daniel J. Gulizio Executive Director

Quassaick Creek Watershed Alliance
John Gebhards Coordinator

Ramapo River Watershed Intermunicipal Council
Janet Lee Burnett
Executive Director

Citizens Campaign for the Environment
Adrienne Esposito Executive Director

Construction Advancement Institute of Westchester & Mid-Hudson, Inc.
Ross J. Pepe
Executive Director

Construction Industry Council of Westchester & Hudson Valley
Ross J. Pepe
President

Dutchess County Water and Wastewater Authority
Bridget Barclay
Executive Director

Environmental Advocates of New York
Elizabeth Moran
Water & Natural Resources Associate

Greater Stockport Creek Watershed Alliance
Fran Martino
Outreach Coordinator

Historic Hudson River Towns, Inc.
Jerry Faille
Executive Director

Hudson River Boat and Yacht Club Assoc.
Frank Bergman
President Emeritus

Hudson River Sloop Clearwater
Manna Jo Greene
Environmental Action Director

Rebuild NY Now
Gib Gagnon
Chairman

Reinvent Albany
Liz Marcello
Campaign Manager

Rensselaer Land Trust, Inc.
Christine Young, Esq.
Executive Director

Riverkeeper
Paul Gallay
President and Hudson Riverkeeper

Roe Jan Watershed Community
Kaare Christian
Founder

Sarah Lawrence College Center for the Urban River at Beczak
Ryan Palmer
Executive Director

Save The River / Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper
Lee Willbanks
Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper and Executive Director

Save the Sound
Tracy Brown
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
Simon Gruber
President

Hudson River Watertrail Association
Peggy Navarre
President

Hudson Valley Regional Council
Patricia Pomeroy
Executive Director

Kromma Kill Watershed Alliance
Kate Meierdiercks
Member

Lake Champlain – Lake George Regional Planning Board
Beth Gilles
Assistant Director

Long Island Pine Barrens Society
Richard Amper
Executive Director

Lower Hudson Coalition of Conservation Districts
Michael Jastremski
Coordinator

Mohawk River Watershed Alliance
John Garver

New York City Soil and Water Conservation District
Shino Tanikawa
Executive Director

New York City Water Trail Association
Nancy Brous and Rob Buchanan
Steering Committee Members

Scenic Hudson
Ned Sullivan
Executive Director

Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter
Roger Downs
Conservation Director

Sparkill Creek Watershed Alliance
Laurie Seeman
Chair

Stormwater Infrastructure Matters (S.W.I.M.) Coalition
Jaime Stein
Chair, Steering Committee

Strawtown Studio
Laurie Seeman
Chair

The Nature Conservancy in New York
Jessica Ottney Mahar
Policy Director

Upper Hudson River Watershed Coalition
Beth Gilles
Vice Chair

Wallkill River Watershed Alliance
Jason West
Director

Wappinger Creek Intermunicipal Council
Mike Herzog
Chair