Albany, NY...Senator Michelle Hinchey (D-Saugerties) today announced a bill (S3968A) she has introduced that would provide municipalities with the funding stream they need to finance water system upgrades and maintenance backlogs through the State Budget. If adopted, the bill would create the Safe Water Infrastructure Action Program (SWAP), a drinking water, sanitary sewer, and stormwater infrastructure funding plan. Hinchey introduced an updated version of the bill, originally carried by fellow upstate Senator James Tedisco (R, C-Glenville), after discussions about shared water infrastructure issues across their respective regions.
“Access to clean and safe water is a fundamental right, but in many of the communities I represent, that access is threatened by aging, and, in some cases crumbling, water infrastructure,” said Senator Hinchey. “If you heard me on the campaign trail, you know that I spoke out on the critical importance of providing our communities with the resources they need to upgrade and maintain their water distribution systems — systems that, in my district, are nearly 90 years old. This bill to create the Safe Water Infrastructure Action Program is designed to do just that. I’m proud to take action so early on in the legislative session to deliver on that promise.”
SWAP funds would be appropriated annually through the State Budget, similar in scope to the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS), and earmarked for municipalities to enable a faster timeline for communities to replace and repair aging water infrastructure. Under the bill, municipalities would also have the ability to leverage additional clean water funding from the federal government through a matching scheme for eligible infrastructure projects.
Village of Coxsackie Mayor Mark Evans said, “The Village of Coxsackie supports any effort to increase the funding available for water infrastructure. Like Coxsackie, so many small Villages and Towns in New York are struggling to keep up with old and decaying water pipes, with breaks and interruption of service all too common. Clean and reliable drinking water is a must for every community, and I applaud Senator Hinchey’s initiative on this bill.”
City of Amsterdam Mayor Michael Cinquanti said, “Like every upstate New York city, Amsterdam's drinking water and wastewater management infrastructure consists of complex, multi-component systems which require consistent maintenance and upgrading to remain safe, efficient, and in compliance with ever-changing regulatory mandates. A well-funded version of the Action Program being proposed in this legislation would be a Godsend for our City and the residents we serve.”
Senator James Skoufis (D-Hudson Valley) said, "I thank Senator Hinchey for introducing the Safe Water Infrastructure Action Program bill and am proud to be a co-sponsor. Municipalities throughout New York State are experiencing their water infrastructure continue to crumble, endangering our clean water and leaving our local taxpayers to hold the bag for improvements. The state needs to step in and provide much-needed resources and that’s exactly what this legislation does. I look forward to working alongside Senator Hinchey and our colleagues to get this extremely important bill across the finish line."
“All too often in New York, we wait until there is a catastrophic sewage overflow or water main break before we act to fix our water infrastructure. Preventing sewage spills is much better for our health and the environment than cleaning them up,” said Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director for Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE). “Providing municipalities with a consistent source of funding will allow them to conduct critical maintenance necessary to avoid water infrastructure failures that damage our environment and threaten our health and economy. CCE commends Senator Hinchey for her legislation to provide local governments with another important tool to maintain critical clean water infrastructure.”
Senator Michelle Hinchey represents the 46th Senate District, which includes Greene and Montgomery Counties and parts of Albany, Schenectady, and Ulster Counties. Senator Hinchey serves as Chair of the Agriculture Committee and sits on the Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business, Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation, Energy and Telecommunications, Environmental Conservation, and Local Government Committees.