Jan 22, 2019

New York Governor Invests $2.5 Billion in Drinking Water Infrastructure

First on the docket is cleaning up a toxic groundwater plume in Bethpage, N.Y., impacting drinking water

New York state allocates funds to improve drinking water infrastructure.
New York state allocates funds to improve drinking water infrastructure.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed allocating $2.5 billion to fix drinking water and water infrastructure problems across the state. The proposed funding would be in addition to a previous $2.5 billion allocated under the Clean Water Infrastructure Act, making the total state funding for water quality projects in the 2019-20 fiscal year $500 million, according to Newsday.

“We need to invest in clean, safe drinking water,” Cuomo said. “We have a $2.5 billion investment to replace infrastructure all across the state.”

Communities will have the opportunity to apply to for the drinking water infrastructure funds, but some are concerned that there will be a cap on grants of approximately $3 million. In areas such as Bethpage, N.Y., a former Northrup Grumman and U.S. Navy aircraft manufacturing site that now faces a nearly 4-mile-long and 2-mile-wide toxic groundwater plume, communities are concerned the groundwater cleanup will exceed the $3 million cap.

“The treatment costs would certainly be in excess of that amount,” said Ty Fuller, chairman of the Long Island Water Conference. “That in our view needs to be changed … or maybe scale the grant limit to the population level served.”

In 2017, construction of a containment and treatment system at the massive groundwater plume was estimated at $150 million, far exceeding the cap. Still, the governor’s allocation of funding for drinking water infrastructure is meeting approval.

“I think the governor is absolutely right that the aquifers are in danger, so I appreciate aggressive action in that area,” said Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach), chairman of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee.