Press Releases

Adirondack Council Hails State's $45-Million Investment in Clean Water

Part of Governor’s $2.5-Billion Plan to Upgrade Water Facilities Statewide

ELIZABETHTOWN, N.Y. – The Adirondack Council today applauded Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Environmental Facilities Corp. (EFC) and Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for their work in awarding $45 million in grants to 29 Adirondack communities for clean water projects since 2015. Click HERE to see a list of the clean water infrastructure grants for 2015-2018.

“These grants for clean drinking water and better wastewater treatment facilities are very important to the future of the Adirondack Park,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director William C. Janeway. “The EFC’s and DEC’s grants are helping to keep a world-class tourism destination equipped with world-class infrastructure that meets the needs of the public, while preventing water contamination in our rivers, lakes and underground drinking supplies. 

“State grants help to spread the cost of hosting 12.4 million annual visitors, so the Park’s rural taxpayers don’t bear the entire burden. These systems cost millions of dollars to build and maintain,” Janeway explained. “Most Adirondack communities have fewer than 2,000 residents.”

The grants were awarded to Adirondack communities through the Governor’s $2.5-billion Clean Water Infrastructure Act of 2015. Janeway noted that the $45 million was likely to increase soon, as the DEC was expected to announce another round of grant funding through the Water Quality Improvement Program before Dec. 31.

The Adirondack Park contains more than 3,000 lakes and 8,000 ponds, more than 1,500 miles of navigable rivers, fed by 30,000 miles of brooks and streams. It contains the headwaters to most of New York’s major river systems and its vast forests filter water supplies for cities far away from the Park.  Preventing pollution at the source is much cheaper and more effective than trying to purify it late, Janeway said.

The Adirondack Council was encouraged by the Governor’s recent call to expand these clean water programs in 2019 and beyond, he noted.  As documented in past Adirondack Council reports on Clean Water Infrastructure needs in the Adirondack Park (Clean Water Infrastructure in the Adirondack Park, 2016; and, Wastewater Treatment Plants in the Adirondacks, 2017), much remains to be done.

In those reports - and through further recent discussions with town officials – the Council has documented nearly $100 million dollars in capital project needs at wastewater plants, sewer systems and drinking water facilities in the Park, just in the next decade. Continuing financial support from the state is critical in the future of the Adirondack Park’s environment and local economy, Janeway said.

“As the state’s Clean Water Infrastructure programs evolve, additional focus should be placed on hardship communities in the Adirondack Park. Supplemental assistance should be made available, beyond the current project-cost percentages these grant levels are authorized to support,” noted Janeway. “The cost of offering additional help to tiny, struggling Adirondack communities would be quite small. The benefits to water purity would be huge.” 

The Adirondack Council has been partnering with local communities to help them meet their clean water infrastructure challenges. Consulting Clean Water Program Coordinator David Miller said that he has met with mayors and town supervisors around the Park to learn more about their challenges and needs.  Miller said many of the projects currently underway and recently completed would not have been possible without the state’s financial assistance. 

The grants have enabled local governments to pursue capital investments that were once the purview of federal grant funding. Support from Congress has been limited to zero and low interest loans through the Federal State Revolving Loan Fund, leaving the capital costs of construction, maintenance, upgrades and improvements to local governments and the state. These projects are important for protection of clean water and for building economic infrastructure in community centers, to support a record expansion of Park visitation, he said.

Janeway explained that additional assistance is still needed in the form of engineering and technical assistance in the Adirondack Park’s smallest towns, where part-time public officials lack the time and resources to complete the studies required to secure state funding. In other cases, the community might need a small stipend to bridge the gap between what the project will cost and what the community’s ratepayers can afford, Janeway said.

In addition to the grants program, Janeway said the Adirondack Council applauds the Governor’s focus on harmful algae blooms. Through this initiative the state is bringing additional resources to local wastewater and sewer systems, while developing solutions to address the growing water quality impacts of old and leaking septic systems in the Adirondack Park.

On road salt water contamination, research has recently documented the adverse impacts to local water bodies as well as to resident drinking water supplied by wells, he said. There are better options for maintaining safe winter roads, he said. A partnership between the Adirondack Road Salt Working Group and the state Dept. of Transpiration is conducting road salt reduction pilot projects. That’s a critical step to address this issue, but much more can and should be done, he said.

The Adirondack Council is a privately funded not-for-profit organization whose mission is to ensure the ecological integrity and wild character of the Adirondack Park. The Council envisions a Park with clean water and clean air, comprised of core wilderness areas, surrounded by farms and working forests, as well as vibrant communities. The Adirondack Council carries out its mission through research, education, advocacy and legal action to ensure the legacy of the Adirondack Park is safeguarded for future generations. Adirondack Council members live in all 50 United States.

For more information:

John Sheehan, Adirondack Council, 518-441-1340 cell

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018

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