Governor Hochul Announces $272 Million for Water Quality Improvement Projects across the State
New York (STL.News) Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that more than $272 million is being awarded to 179 projects to protect and improve water quality across New York State. These awards are in addition to the $196 million awarded to 488 projects from multiple State Agency programs through Round XI of the Governor’s Regional Economic Development Council Initiative announced last week to stimulate New York’s post-pandemic economic recovery. The $272 million awarded through the State’s Water Quality Improvement Project program will help significantly improve water quality, combat contributors to harmful algal blooms, and update aging water infrastructure in communities across the State.
“Our state’s economic development goals cannot be achieved without clean water for drinking, recreation, and the overall quality of life New Yorkers expect and deserve,” Governor Hochul said. “These sustained investments in water quality improve the health of our communities while creating economic opportunity through well paying, long lasting jobs.”
Today’s announcement is the largest-ever awarded through the Water Quality Improvement Project program. Earlier this year, Governor Hochul announced more than $277 million in economic development funding was awarded to support 585 shovel-ready projects across New York State—the full list of awardees can be found here. The funding is part of the $750 million announced as part of Round XI of the Regional Economic Development Council initiative.
Lieutenant Governor Benjamin said, “Clean air and water is not a privilege, it is a human right and New York is steadfast in our commitment to protect and improve water quality across the Empire State. The $272 million in funding will significantly upgrade our clean water and wastewater infrastructure while creating jobs that will bolster local economies for years to come.”
The Water Quality Improvement Project (WQIP) grant program is administered by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and funds projects that directly address documented water quality impairments or protect a drinking water source. Supported in part by the State’s Environmental Protection Fund, WQIP projects include municipal wastewater treatment upgrades, non-agricultural nonpoint source abatement and control, land acquisition projects for source water protection, salt storage construction, aquatic connectivity restoration, and marine habitat restoration.
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “Protecting New York’s water quality is among Governor Hochul’s top priorities. She recognizes that access to clean water is critical to sustaining the health of our communities, environment, and economy. The $272 million in WQIP grants announced today will help communities across the state advance work and maximize investments to safeguard our drinking water supplies for generations to come.”
Highlights of the 179 projects funded in this round of grants include:
Wastewater Improvement Projects:
City of Mount Vernon – $10 million for Wastewater Infrastructure, Combined Sewer Overflow/Sanitary Sewer Overflow Projects (Mid-Hudson): The project will improve water quality in the Hutchinson River by upgrading Mount Vernon’s municipal wastewater outfalls to prevent the discharge of raw sewage. An additional $75,000 included in last week’s REDC announcement supports the mapping of Mount Vernon’s municipal separate storm sewer systems to prevent polluted runoff from affecting local communities and the environment.
Chemung County – $10 million for a Sewer District Wastewater Treatment Plant Consolidation Project (Southern Tier): The funding will support the county’s efforts to combine two aging wastewater treatment plants and perform upgrades that will help meet state standards and improve the water quality by reducing nitrogen and phosphorus discharged to the Chemung River and Chesapeake Bay watershed.
Village of Patchogue – $7.76 million for Municipal Wastewater Treatment Facility Improvements (Long Island): The village of Patchogue will use the funding to upgrade its wastewater treatment facility to increase capacity and reduce the amount of nitrogen entering Patchogue Bay. This project supports the goals of the Suffolk County Subwatersheds Wastewater Plan.
Nonpoint Source Abatement Projects:
Town of Willsboro – $2.5 million for a Decentralized Wastewater Treatment Facility (North Country): The town will address failing septic systems by constructing a decentralized wastewater treatment system that will improve water quality by reducing nutrients entering Lake Champlain and its watershed.
Town of Gates – $75,000 for Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System Mapping (Finger Lakes): The town of Gates in Monroe County will use the funding from the Nonpoint Source Planning and MS4 Mapping Grant to complete the final phase of comprehensive mapping of their regulated municipal separate storm sewer system as required by the DEC general permit for stormwater systems.
Erie County – $152,400 for a Rain Barrel Distribution Program (Western New York): Erie County will make rain barrels available to property owners in areas impacted by sanitary sewer overflows in Erie and Niagara counties to reduce the volume of stormwater infiltrating sanitary sewers. Using rain barrels to reduce the runoff from storm events is a nonpoint source best management practice that will reduce the amount of pollutants entering nearby waterways.
Land Acquisition Projects to Protect Drinking Water Sources:
Central New York Land Trust – $6.44 million for Land Acquisitions to Protect Skaneateles Lake (Central New York): Central New York Land Trust will acquire eight parcels totaling over 380 acres near Skaneateles Lake, the drinking water supply for the City of Syracuse. They will restore the lands to their natural habitat and complete any necessary work to mitigate soil erosion and stormwater runoff of sediment and nutrients in the Skaneateles Lake watershed.
Towns of Canajoharie and Palatine – $671,000 for Two New Salt Storage Facilities (Mohawk Valley): The towns of Palatine ($500,000) and Canajoharie ($171,104) in Montgomery County will each construct a new building to store the salt or salt/sand mixture they use for winter road safety. These structures will protect nearby groundwater, drinking water wells, and surface waters from salt infiltration.
Aquatic Connectivity Restoration:
Trout Unlimited, Inc – $230,000 for Two Aquatic Connectivity Restoration Projects in Columbia County (Capital Region): Trout Unlimited, Inc. will work with the town of Ghent to replace two stream crossings on Widow Creek and with the Town of Copake to replace a culvert on a tributary to Bash Bish Brook. These replacements will mitigate flooding and remove barriers for fish and other aquatic organisms for more than six miles of cold-water habitat in Columbia County.
Marine Habitat Restoration:
New York City Department of Parks and Recreation – $653,647 for Habitat Improvements in Idlewild Marsh (New York City): New York City Department of Parks and Recreation will work with partners to enhance at least four acres of the Idlewild Preserve tidal wetland to improve critical habitat for birds, fish, terrapins, and other wildlife.