Over the last year, Environmental Advocates of New York has joined with local officials from across the state, as well as business interests and public health advocates, urging Governor Cuomo and state legislators to prioritize investments in drinking and wastewater infrastructure. Troy’s water main break, just miles from the Capitol of the Empire State, may finally be the event that draws attention to the dire necessity to make the investments that our communities need.
I’ve seen hundreds of examples in the past year, from Albany to Buffalo and Long Island, where a water main broke, basements were flooded, boil water alerts issued, and schools and businesses closed. We’ve also tracked the thousands of sewage overflows that occur, often when rain floods a system and results in the discharge of untreated waste into local waterbodies. The consequences are terrible for our environment, public health, and economy.
The Troy water main break struck close to home: my partner and I live in Lansingburgh. We were lucky, as it only amounted to an inconvenience for us. But residents in nearby communities have been without reliable, safe drinking water for days.
Last year, our coalition secured $200 million in the state budget to be allocated over three years to help fix our pipes, and the Governor has proposed an additional $100 million in his executive budget. Not a bad start, but it is estimated that at least $800 million is needed annually.
As an advocate, as well as a resident, I urge Capital Region legislators – Senators Kathy Marchione, Neil Breslin, and George Amedore, as well as Assemblymembers Patricia Fahy, John McDonald, Steve McLaughlin, and Phil Steck – to work together to secure $800 million for this year’s water infrastructure grant line in the State Budget to protect New Yorkers’ right to safe drinking water.