Speaker Heastie Announces Assembly Water Grant Program, the NYS Water Infrastructure Improvement Act Included in 2015-16 SFY Budget

Assemblymembers Otis and McDonald, former mayors, push for grant program in budget to help pay for municipal water infrastructure projects

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie today announced that the 2015-2016 SFY Budget includes $200 million for the NYS Water Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2015 to assist municipalities in funding water quality infrastructure projects. The new grant program was initiated by the Assembly to address the financial crisis that many localities face when securing funding for waste water and drinking water infrastructure projects.

“By allowing municipalities to combine borrowing with state grant monies, the NYS Water Infrastructure Improvement Act will help incentivize local governments to move forward with much-needed water quality projects,” said Speaker Heastie. “I hope municipalities across the state take advantage of this new way to afford these water projects, which are essential to protecting public health and drinking water supplies.”

This novel way to pay for municipal water projects was championed by Assemblymembers Steve Otis of Rye and John McDonald of Cohoes, both former mayors, and advocates for addressing municipal infrastructure costs.

“Governor Cuomo and Speaker Heastie have shown tremendous leadership in helping to meet the water infrastructure needs of local governments throughout the state,” said Otis and McDonald in a joint statement. “This new grant program will make water quality projects more affordable to municipalities and shift some of the costs away from the already overburdened local property taxpayers.”

Local Governments Committee Chair William Magnarelli and Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Steve Englebright also support the NYS Water Infrastructure Improvement Act.

“Funding for the NYS Water Infrastructure Improvement Act, which the Assembly pushed to include in the budget, provides municipalities with another way to pay for upgrades or improvements to their water quality operations,” said Magnarelli. “With this program, more municipalities may find that paying for improvements to their water facilities is no longer out of reach.”

“We hope this new way to secure funds to pay for these water treatment projects will spur municipalities to take steps to upgrade their water plant facilities, which are essential to protecting public health and the environment,” said Englebright.

The need to provide clean drinking water and sewage treatment, results in significant challenges for municipalities that are unable to take on sufficient debt to fund the overall costs of the projects. Although local governments often have the option of applying for NY Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC) loans, many do not take full advantage of this opportunity because they cannot afford to incur the amount of debt necessary to finance their clean water projects.

The 2015-16 SFY Budget provides $200 million over three years for the NYS Water Infrastructure Improvement Act, and municipalities will work with EFC and the Department of Environmental Conservation to secure funding.