Get the Facts


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New York Needs Billions to Fix Our Pipes


Government estimates establish the need for water infrastructure investment.


N.Y.S. Department of Health – $39 billion in capital financing for drinking water projects.


N.Y.S. Department of Environmental Conservation – $36 billion for wastewater infrastructure.


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – $22 billion through the year 2030.


Public studies conducted by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and a private study produced by AGC partner, the Water Infrastructure Network, have similarly estimated the nation’s water infrastructure needs to between $400 and $600 billion over a 20-year period.


Lead in School Drinking Water


In 2016, Governor Cuomo signed a law requiring all public school districts and boards of cooperative educational services (BOCES) to test drinking water for lead contamination.


The law requires that for any water outlet in exceedance of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) lead action level, established for public water systems, of 15 parts per billion (ppb), the school must immediately take action to eliminate the potential exposure to lead.


Any outlet that exceeds EPA’s lead action level must be immediately taken out of service until a remediation plan is implemented to mitigate the lead levels at that outlet. In addition, building occupants must be provided with an adequate supply of potable water for drinking and cooking until remediation is performed, and testing shows lead levels are at or below the action level.


The NYS Department of Health has made the lead in school data publically available through the Health Data New York (HDNY) platform found at, that data will continue to be updated.


Testing results:


One of every seven schools was above the Environmental Protection Agency lead action level.


By January 25, 2017, the New York City Department of Education (NYC DoE) had only submitted results from 541 buildings for the approximately 1,720 schools in New York City.


NYC DoE will not have complete results until mid-2017.


Wasted Water


New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli reports that breaks in water mains can affect an entire community’s water supply. Some examples of recent notable water main breaks include:


  • The City of Syracuse had 372 water main breaks in 2015 and another 114 through September 2016.


  • The City of Albany established water restrictions in 2016 after a water main break caused a sinkhole to form, swallowing a car.


  • In the City of Troy, officials declared a state of emergency in January 2016 due to a large water main break that also led to citywide water restrictions. This was one of at least 13 significant water breaks in the City over the last five years.


  • New York City’s large system also suffers from frequent water main breaks. In 2015, there were 562 water main breaks reported. The number of breaks has varied between 350 and 600 a year between 1999 and 2015. Colder temperatures can increase the number of the system’s water main breaks.


Contaminated Water Supplies


Comptroller DiNapoli – Contaminated water jeopardizes the health of thousands of New Yorker’s.


In the Village of Hoosick Falls and the Town of Petersburgh in Rensselaer County, plastic manufacturing plants released perfluorooctanoic acid (more commonly known as PFOA) into the environment as a by-product of their industrial processes. The PFOA ultimately found its way into the groundwater sources for both municipalities’ drinking water.


In the City of Newburgh, runoff at the Stewart Air National Guard Base caused contamination by perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS, a similar chemical to PFOA). The PFOS ended up in Lake Washington, the City’s main reservoir. The EPA has issued health advisory warnings regarding PFOA and PFOS, which have been linked to a variety of adverse health effects.


Chemical contamination has also been reported in other parts of the State, including but not limited to Long Island. Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island obtain all of their drinking water from a network of aquifers that underlie the island.  Suffolk County’s particularly heavy reliance on onsite septic systems has jeopardized local water sources. In many cases, the septic systems were intended for sparse development and seasonal use in areas now densely developed with primarily full-time residents and other users. Many of these systems have effectively failed; but funding to replace them is limited, making solutions including expensive wastewater collection and treatment systems difficult.  As a result, these systems contribute the majority of nitrogen pollution in the county’s drinking water sources, as well as in the Long Island Sound and the eastern and southern coastal areas.


Jobs and Economy


Our economy needs clean water infrastructure.


The United States Department of Commerce has estimated that each job created in the local water and wastewater industry creates 3.68 jobs in the national economy and each public dollar spent yields $2.62 in economic output in other industries.


The United States Conference of Mayors determined that each public dollar invested in water infrastructure increases private long-term Gross Domestic Product output by $6.35.


Infrastructure investment is fundamental to a proactive strategy not only for providing clean drinking water, but also safe waters for swimming, boating, fishing and other recreational pursuits that support a high quality of life as well as many businesses.


Legislative Proposals


Governor and Legislators propose billions for clean water infrastructure.


Executive Budget for State Fiscal Year 2017-18 – $2 billion for water quality improvements. (Governor Andrew Cuomo – 2017-18 Executive Budget)


“Clean Water Bond Act” – $5 billion for preservation, enhancement, restoration and improvement of the quality of the state’s water. (S.3772A – Hannon / A.5467 – Englebright)


New York’s leaders call for clean drinking water and investment.


“Investing in water infrastructure is critical to fostering growth in our communities and our state. This Act will continue our historic commitment to protecting and preserving New York’s natural resources by infusing $2 billion in critical upgrades to water systems across the state. This investment will rebuild and improve our regional infrastructure, while supporting a stronger, healthier New York for generations to come.” Governor Andrew M. Cuomo


“The Clean Water Infrastructure Act significantly bolsters the State’s leadership by continuing strategic investments in water infrastructure projects.” Basil Seggos, Commissioner, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation


“Governor Cuomo clearly understands that clean drinking water is essential to public health. The Clean Water Infrastructure Act of 2017 commits historic levels of funding and takes aggressive actions to preserve our water supply while creating a national model for the protection of drinking water.”   Dr. Howard Zucker, Commissioner, New York State Department of Health


Over this summer and fall the Senate and Assembly held a series of hearings across the state to hear from officials, experts and residents in order to gain an understanding of the water quality issues they face. While the needs of the communities vary based on a range of threats to their water, a consistent theme throughout these hearings was the severe need for funding to support measures and infrastructure upgrades these communities need. While there have been state and federal funding sources established over the years, such as the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF), which offered low interest loans and grants for water system improvement projects, and the NYS Water Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2015, which provided $200 million to municipalities for water quality improvement projects, these programs have not been enough to meet the vast needs. Senator Kemp Hannon and Assemblyman Steven Englebright – S.3772-A/A.5467 – Legislative Bill Memo


“Now is the time for a commitment that will not only create jobs but will ensure the safety and well-being of Rochester families who every day worry about the quality of the drinking water in their homes and in their children’s schools.” Mike Elmendorf, President and CEO of Rebuild New York Now


“If infrastructure is the engine of our economy, then infrastructure funding is the fuel that drives that engine forward. Not only will this funding create thousands of jobs, it will overhaul an essential yet outdated system that provides countless benefits when operating effectively.” Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo


“It is critically important to all New Yorkers that we work towards ensuring clean and reliable drinking water and an updated wastewater infrastructure. By supporting initiatives such as these, we can work to make our state a better, safer and stronger place to live and work.” Senator Joe Robach


“Our region is home to some of the best fresh water resources in the world, but we need reliable infrastructure to get that water safely to and from our homes and businesses.”  Senator Rich Funke


“With $7 billion in water quality funding proposals from Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature now being discussed in Albany, we urge lawmakers to ensure that the State Budget includes a significant program that will protect clean water. Funding is needed to protect drinking water at its source, and update the infrastructure that safely delivers water to our communities and wastewater to treatment facilities, protecting our rivers, streams and Great Lakes.”  Jim Howe, Central and Western New York Chapter Director for The Nature Conservancy in New York


“One of the top economic development assets in the Finger Lakes region is the availability of an abundance of fresh water.  Rochester Chamber supports the Clean Water Infrastructure Act in order to keep our water clean and safe for businesses and families.”  Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bob Duffy



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