LTE: Release funding to promote clean water

The following letter to the editor was published in the The Daily Gazette on September 27, 2020 and was written by Maureen Cunningham, our Senior Director for Clean Water.

While some of us were enjoying a cup of coffee on Sunday morning Sept. 20, many in Schenectady were without clean water. The culprit? A water main break that resulted in road closures and residents having little to no running water.

I wish I could say that what happened in Schenectady is uncommon, but it isn’t.

New York has some of the oldest water infrastructure in the country, resulting in pipes breaking at an alarming frequency. The state estimated that it would cost upwards of $80 billion to fix New York’s drinking water and wastewater infrastructure.

There’s a solution: New York has a grant program, the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act, that helps local governments update, repair and replace their crumbling infrastructure. Communities across the state have received this critical grant funding since 2015, and others are lined up with shovel-ready projects.

Earlier this year, state leaders earmarked $500 million in new clean water infrastructure funding; six months later, however, the state has yet to release these much-needed funds.

Clean water has always been important, but is more so now as New Yorkers need to wash their hands to fend off COVID-19. Water infrastructure funding is not only a matter of public health, but also helps us rebuild our economy. Every dollar spent on water infrastructure yields good-paying jobs and contributes to our economic vitality.

We urge Gov. Cuomo to release these essential infrastructure funds, so we can get more New Yorkers back to work with access to clean, running water.