The following letter to the editor was published in the Times Union on May 20, 2020 and was written by Rob Hayes, our Clean Water Associate.
The water main break that flooded Orange Street in Albany is the latest example of something that is far too common in New York: the breakdown of our aging water infrastructure. According to state estimates, New York has an enormous need of $80 billion to repair water mains, upgrade sewage treatment plants, and complete other improvements.
In the recently approved state budget, the Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo earmarked $500 million in new funding to fix our pipes. We now need to ensure this critical funding reaches the local governments who need it. One of the state’s grant programs, the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act, has provided desperately needed funding to every county outside of New York City since its inception in 2015. There are still many shovel-ready projects waiting in the wings once this additional funding becomes available.
An investment in water infrastructure will provide relief to New Yorkers who rely on clean water to keep them safe, especially as washing our hands is a critical line of defense against the coronavirus. This funding will also help jump-start New York’s economic recovery, assisting local governments make critical repairs and providing good-paying jobs as we start to re-open the state. Cuomo should move quickly to get this money out the door and put people to work.