Water Upgrade Money Can't Fix All Systems In New York's Towns, But It's A Start

Apr 20, 2017

Storm drain.
Credit Dick Stewart / Flickr

Many drinking water systems in New York State are “past their useful life.” That’s how the state comptroller puts it. But they’re expensive to replace.

So, in the final state budget, Governor Cuomo and lawmakers agreed to devote $2.5 billion over the next few years to upgrade the state’s water infrastructure.

For Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton (D-Ithaca), this money is just a “down payment” on all the work that needs to be done.

“$2.5 billion is a lot of money, but in five years, we’re going to be looking at this again probably and saying, 'okay, we probably need to do another round of this and keep going on these upgrades,'” said Lifton.

The state comptroller agrees. This past winter, he released a report saying water upgrades in New York would cost up to $40 billion.

But, the current allocation is a start.

The state is awarding a big part of the money to towns through competitive grants. Money will likely be granted based on need and urgency. Towns should know in the next couple of weeks when they can apply.