In the News  Archive

OUR VIEW: Clean Adirondack water a priority

Utica Observer Dispatch
December. 4, 2014

Many, including state Sen. Joseph Griffo, R-Rome, believe a high priority should be infrastructure. He’s right. New York’s has been neglected. A 2010 report on deteriorating bridges by then-Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch found that the state lacked a credible strategy for meeting future needs. And that’s just bridges.

In a meeting earlier this week with the O-D editorial board, William C. Janeway, executive director of the Adirondack Council, was even more specific. Janeway says there’s an urgent need for infrastructure improvements as they relate to clean water in the Adirondack Park. And when the $5 billion windfall is dished out, he said upstate — that includes the 6-million acre park — shouldn’t get shortchanged.

Janeway’s right. Making money available to some of the 130 hamlets and villages in the park to upgrade their water systems is critical not only to those communities involved, but to all of New York state, which depends on the park’s tourism as part of economic development. Clean Adirondack water is also especially important to us because its abundant supply is a valued resource in the Mohawk Valley.

But consider: There are just 130,000 permanent residents in an area the size of Vermont; they cannot be expected to sustain the infrastructure necessary to safeguard the environment while catering to an estimated 10 million people who visit the park each year.

The Hamilton County town of Inlet, for instance, recently completed a $4.1 million wastewater treatment facility that will help handle the tourist influx, allow for home and business expansion and alleviate concerns over wastewater in Fourth Lake. Without such projects, growth in the park would either compromise the environment or be stifled. Either way, that would be detrimental to the entire state.

Over the past seven years, a group called the Common Ground Alliance has served as a catalyst among stakeholders in an effort to initiate dialogue and seek collaborative solutions to shared problems. Clean water is a high priority. But Janeway rightly noted that most Adirondack communities have only a few hundred households to pay back the multi-million-dollar costs of building and rebuilding modern water and sewer systems. While low-interest loans help, that’s not good enough. There must be a dedicated fund whereby grants can be made to help these communities build an economy and protect the Park’s environment.

That’s something state leaders must seriously consider. The Adirondack Park is a treasure. Maintaining and sustaining clean water there is not an option.

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