In the News  Archive

Editorial - Support and budget clean water funding

Editorial - Adirondack Daily Enterprise
February 25, 2016

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced his 2016 Upstate Agenda and he admits the Senate and the Assembly will have questions when deciding these items in the budget.

He explained his initiatives in a conference call to upstate media Monday. Cuomo ended the call with something his father, the 52nd governor of New York, Mario Cuomo, would remind the people. He would quote the old saying "The squeaky wheel gets the grease."

So, with that in mind, we mustn't sit on the couch eating nachos thinking apathetically about decisions that effect us. Instead, we must take up this call to action and be the squeaky wheel on subjects we need to take seriously.

One of the initiatives on the agenda we feel strongly about is the budget item "Water Infrastructure." Why is this important? Because we all know water is the number one of our most precious resources and vital to our survival.

While we flush our sewage and every other imaginable kind of waste into our pristine waters, we also neglect the infrastructure that delivers this valuable resource. Just a few examples of when it rains: untreated sewage flows into waterways from antiquated wastewater systems, New York City regularly discharges approximately 28 billion gallons of raw sewage into the New York Harbor every year, the town of Cheektowaga dumped 500,000 gallons of raw sewage last November into the Buffalo river, and it is estimated the Capital Region dumps more than a billion gallons annually into the Hudson River. This also used to happen with the sewage from the hospital overflowing into Lake Colby until it was fixed.

Aging infrastructure also causes water main breaks like many experienced in the past few years in Saranac Lake. It resulted in the closure of streets and businesses while shutting water off to residents and compromising building foundations.

We've seen the water crisis in Flint, Michigan with lead in the drinking water and now in Hoosick Falls with the contamination of a cancer causing chemical PFOA from a local plastic plant. We know all to well it can happen here, because Saranac Lake has already been through it when the community's water was unsafe and it changed its water source to correct it.

Therefore, we need to do all we can to prevent this crisis, and with a surplus in the budget, now is the time to get it done. The small towns and villages in the North Country can't afford to do it on their own through property taxes, but need state income and sales taxes for this necessary expense.

While we know it is important to the governor because he added another $100 million for each of the next two years as part of the 2016-17 budget, we encourage it to be increased from $738 to $800 million annually in the budget.

To put it in perspective, New York state with a budget surplus and recent bank settlements has an excess of more than $2 billion; the governor and legislators should easily support $800 million. Improving our water supply to protect the public health and economy makes this a very sound investment for the future of New York.

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