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Gov. Andrew Cuomo at Sunken Meadow State Park in August 2016. Courtesy photo: Governor's office

Cuomo announces proposal for $2 billion to protect drinking water

Proposed legislation that would provide $2 billion in funding to protect drinking water in New York, including support for advanced wastewater treatment systems, was announced yesterday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The Clean Water Infrastructure Act would provide the capital dollars needed to upgrade municipal drinking water systems, improve municipal wastewater systems, and protect drinking water at its source, Cuomo said in a press release. In addition to incentivizing shared services, funding will also prioritize bottom-up, community based planning at the regional and watershed level.

The act would provide funding for the installation of advanced wastewater treatment systems, including those to address nitrogen loading on Long Island, Cuomo said.

It would also provide funding for upgrading aging wastewater treatment plants to increase capacity and improve resiliency and connecting existing homes in densely populated communities to sewer systems or installing advanced public on-site septic systems.

The act would also implement the recommendations of Source Water Protection Plans funded by the Environmental Protection Fund beginning in 2017-2018.

Funding would also be directed toward conserving open spaces and building green infrastructure, such as constructed wetlands, to capture runoff and filter contaminants.

It would also increase the state Superfund to expedite the cleanup of hazardous waste that may impact sources of drinking water.

“Investing in water infrastructure is critical to fostering growth in our communities and our state,” Cuomo said. “This act will continue our historic commitment to protecting and preserving New York’s natural resources by infusing $2 billion in critical upgrades to water systems across the state. This investment will rebuild and improve our regional infrastructure, while supporting a stronger, healthier New York for generations to come.”

The legislation must first gain passage in both the State Senate and Assembly before the governor can sign the measure into law.

Yesterday’s announcement was the 17th in a series of proposals by Cuomo as part of his 2017 State of the State.

Cuomo’s other proposals — there have been 19 in all so far — include:

  • making public colleges tuition-free for New Yorkers earning up to $125,000 per year;
  • renovating and upgrading JFK Airport;
  • enhancing the middle class child care tax credit;
  • modernizing and strengthening cybercrime and identify theft laws;
  • legislation to protect seniors against fraudulent transactions, financial exploitation and foreclosure;
  • legislation to crack down on wage theft;
  • installation of more than 500 new charging stations for electric vehicles;
  • legislation to “modernize” voting in New York, implementing early voting as well as automatic and same day voter registration;
  • closing the Indian Point nuclear power plant by 2021;
  • investing $650 million in capital, operating support and tax incentives available for life science companies to support the growth of research and development;
  • launching the “New York Promise Agenda” to “advance social justice and affirm New York’s progressive values, including criminal justice reform to overhaul the state’s bail system and ensure access to speedy trials, expanding opportunities for immigrants and combatting hate crimes;
  • expanding after-school education in high-needs areas;
  • lowering regional greenhouse gas initiative cap by 30 percent between 2020 and 2030;
  • promoting ridesharing initiatives throughout the state;

The governor is delivering his State of the State message at various locations across New York, rather than giving just one speech to the State Legislature, as is customary. He gave the first speech yesterday in New York City. Cuomo is scheduled to give a State of the State regional address at Farmingdale State College today at 1 p.m.

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