Shovel-Ready Water Infrastructure Projects Go Unfunded Across the State
Albany, NY – Today, Environmental Advocates NY (EANY) released a new report, titled Untapped Potential: A New Era for New York’s Infrastructure. The report, the latest in EANY’s Untapped Potential series, finds that while the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act (New York’s largest water infrastructure grant program, also known as WIIA) has been successful at upgrading New York’s crumbling drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, clean water is still at risk because a large number of projects are going unfunded.
Former Governor Cuomo’s administration stopped awarding new WIIA grants when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Under Governor Hochul, WIIA funding has strongly rebounded from that hiatus, with a record number of WIIA dollars distributed in 2022. Despite this, the enormity of the need to fix our pipes continues to be seen in every county across the state.
Governor Hochul included $500 million for the Clean Water Infrastructure Act in her 2023 state budget proposal, which funds 13 different clean water programs, including WIIA. By contrast, EANY’s report reveals that in its latest grant cycle, WIIA alone could have awarded almost $1 billion to shovel-ready projects that protect public health and create good-paying, union jobs.
Key findings of the report:
- In its latest grant cycle, WIIA awarded $279 million to 73 projects, while $665 million in local governments asks representing 246 shovel-ready projects went unfunded
- Twenty-six of those projects not receiving funding would have removed toxic PFAS and 1,4-dioxane from drinking water
- 56% of all grant dollars awarded that cycle were provided to Environmental Justice communities
Rob Hayes, Director of Clean Water with Environmental Advocates NY and author of the report, said, “Local governments are clamoring for more resources to address threats to clean water in their communities, and state leaders must respond with increased investments. We urge Governor Hochul, Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, and Speaker Heastie to double New York’s investment in the Clean Water Infrastructure Act to at least $1 billion. New York should also expand its technical assistance offered to EJ communities and small, rural utilities, so that the WIIA program is accessible to all.”
Examples of Awarded WIIA Projects:
- Central NY: City of Auburn, population 27,000
- $3.7 million for drinking water treatment plant upgrades
- Western NY: Village of Gowanda, population 2,500
- $1.3 million for wastewater treatment plant upgrades
Examples of Shovel-Ready but Unawarded WIIA Projects:
- Long Island: Village of Mineloa, population 20,000
- Requested $5 million for 1,4-dioxane treatment
- Mid-Hudson: Village of Maybrook, population 3,100
- Requested $680,000 for a water storage tank replacement