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Governor pledges $255 million for New York’s water infrastructure

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Kevin P. Coughlin/© 2022 Kevin P. Coughlin / State Of New York / © 2022 Kevin P. Coughlin / State Of New York July 7, 2022 - Hauppauge — Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul, joined by Suffolk County Executive Steve Beeline and Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Segos, announced septic and water infrastructure improvement funding for Long Island during an event at the Suffolk County Water Education Center in Hauppauge. (Kevin P. Coughlin / Office of Governor Kathy Hochul )

WSHU - New York Governor Kathy Hochul has announced $255 million in new grants for statewide water infrastructure projects.

Projects will include upgrading wastewater and sewer systems, reducing water pollution and protecting drinking water from contaminants.

Hochul made the announcement at a press conference on Long Island.

She said she spent her childhood swimming in grimy Lake Erie — and wants to make sure the water quality is never that poor again.

“We know how to do this,” Hochul said. “We know how to protect our shorelines. We know how to protect our homes and our businesses. But it takes money, and it takes money now. And that’s what we’re committed to doing.”

Wastewater is responsible for nitrogen and carbon pollution that leads to toxic algal blooms and ocean acidification.

Basil Seggos, the state’s environmental commissioner, likened New York’s water infrastructure to a vital organ.

“This is the most important infrastructure,” Seggos said. “Because unless you take care of the arteries, right, the body is not going to be healthy. And that’s really what water infrastructure is all about — the unseen infrastructure, that when it goes wrong when you’re not caring for it, everything else falls apart.”

Homeowners and small businesses will have $30 million available to replace septic tanks. Eligible property owners may also be reimbursed 50% of previous costs for replacing their septic tanks, for up to $10,000.

An additional $20 million will be spent on upgrading substandard and failing septic systems in Suffolk County.

“The announcement of additional funds for vital water infrastructure improvements to address emergent contaminate is not just a victory for drinking water quality, but also for ratepayers of Suffolk County and New York State,” said Jeff Szabo, CEO of the Suffolk County Water Authority. “Treatment systems to remove these compounds are tremendously expensive."

County Executive Steve Bellone blamed wastewater for problems with drinking water and the health of Long Island’s waterways.

“For us on Long Island, it’s everything,” Bellone said. “It’s our recreation. It’s our quality of life. It’s our economy. For many people, it’s the reason we live here. The water that sustains us is beneath our feet, literally.”

About 11,000 Suffolk County residents have already replaced their septic tanks with a nitrogen filtering system through the county wastewater grant program since 2017.

Eligible homeowners and small businesses received up to $20,000 from the county and $10,000 from the state.
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