More than 150 communities will benefit from New York's recently announced $638 million effort to improve drinking water and upgrade aging sewage plants that contribute to pollution in beaches, bays and rivers.
The bulk of the funding — some $426 million — will go to improve drinking water and projects to treat so-called “emerging contaminants” in water. Another $139 million will support wastewater improvement projects.
The money will kickstart projects that were put on hold at the start of the pandemic, said Rob Hayes, the Director of Clean Water for Environmental Advocates NY, a climate advocacy nonprofit.
But, he said, it’s just a fraction of the money needed to address the challenges ahead.
For instance, with few exceptions, the money will not cover the cost of replacing lead service lines, which snake underground in many New York regions, potentially bringing lead-contaminated water into New Yorkers' homes.
“We have enormous drinking water and wastewater issues in New York State,” Hayes said. “It’s going to take at least $80 billion to fix our pipes and make sure that we’re repairing crumbling and aging and outdated infrastructure.”
The $601 million in grants from the state’s Environmental Facilities Corporation, boosted by $37 million in federal subsidies, represents the largest-ever award of Water Infrastructure Improvement grants.