Op-ed for the Watertown Daily Times and NNY360

By William C. Janeway

Adirondack Council Executive Director

Your recent editorial “Hold off on Debt…” missed the point on the upcoming vote on Nov. 8 to approve a Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Bond Act for New York. The bond act is an opportunity to avoid enormous amounts of debt for north country and Adirondack property taxpayers. That is why voters should approve the bond act, not reject it.

Please remember to flip over your ballot on Election Day and vote “yes” for Proposal 1. Candidates for office are on the front. The Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Bond Act is on the back. 

Clean water is a basic human need. In too many communities around the United States, people are buying bottled water and avoiding what comes out of the tap. Some states refuse to help their communities protect this precious resource, so safe, reliable drinking water has become very expensive.  Packed in individual-serving containers, bottled water is more expensive than gasoline.

Protecting water from pollution means new filtration equipment, modern sewage treatment facilities and protected buffer zones that halt polluted runoff so it can’t reach drinking water supplies. Those investments aren’t cheap either, but they offer decades of protection for clean water.

In the Adirondacks and across rural New York, small communities are faced with a dilemma. They need clean water and want to make the responsible investments needed to modernize their infrastructure.  But their population and tax base are too small to raise millions of dollars for new projects. They can’t do it alone, without exceeding the tax-increase cap or overburdening their residents.

The good news is that the bond act would help lift the burden of maintaining clean reservoirs, lakes and rivers from local taxpayers. It would bring more than $650 million in help from other parts of the state. Downstream, communities will benefit from the clean waters that flow from the Adirondack Park in every direction.

At the same time, the bond act would put north country residents to work building and maintaining new infrastructure for villages and towns, as well as upgrades at county fish hatcheries and new private sector jobs installing and maintaining clean energy systems. Statewide, the bond act will generate some 80,000 new jobs protecting clean water, improving energy conservation and providing clean energy.

The bond act’s investments in climate will mean less air pollution for us and our children, including emissions-free school buses rather than sooty, diesel-powered buses. It will help wildlife to cope with climate change by connecting protected habitat inside and outside of the Adirondacks, providing an escape route to cooler locations when temperatures rise.

Overall, the bond act would invest $1.5 billion to curb the impacts of climate change and prepare for its consequences. It would invest $1.1 billion for restoration of storm damage and to minimize future flood risks. 

And it would provide $650 million for open space conservation and recreational opportunities. That can help relieve some of the overuse of popular Adirondack recreational trails and aid with the redesign and construction of new opportunities for hiking, camping and paddling statewide.

These are the investments needed to protect our water, clean our air and make the transition from fossil fuels to cleaner, cheaper, renewable power. Those investments will secure a brighter future for our children.  Don’t hold off.  Vote “Yes.” 

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