Assembly members call for new legislation to create a CHIPS-like state program for towns & cities to protect water, sewer, storm water infrastructure & save tax dollars
Assemblyman Jim Tedisco (R,C,I-Glenville), Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin (R,C,I-Schaghticoke) and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R,C,I-Corning) are joining with several local Capital Region officials in seeking a new state program to repair and maintain vital local drinking water, sewer, storm water management and gas line infrastructure to protect lives, secure the viability of roads and bridges aboveground and save tax dollars.
The Safe Water infrastructure Action Program (S.W.A.P.) is for drinking water, storm water, sanitary sewer and gas line infrastructure and is modeled on the popular and successful CHIPS program for local roads and bridges. S.W.A.P. would provide annual funding to all municipalities in the state to allow them to identify and swap out old, deteriorating pipes, water mains and gas lines to better maintain the state’s infrastructure. The lawmakers are seeking inclusion of S.W.A.P. in the 2016-17 state budget and announced the introduction of separate companion legislation (A.9651) to create the program.
Much of the infrastructure under New York State is aging, and in some cases, dates back to the Civil War. In January, a century-old water main break in Troy caused a major disruption for the Collar City and a ripple-effect for several towns that purchase water from the city who were forced to declare states of emergency to conserve water. Several municipalities have expressed support for S.W.A.P. and passed local resolutions including Saratoga County, Troy and the towns of Clifton Park, Ballston, Glenville, Halfmoon, Malta, East Greenbush and Corinth.
“The monster lurking under the aging water and sewer infrastructure of our towns and cities will not go away if we just closed our eyes and wished it away. On the contrary, that monster can catastrophically attack at any time the safety of our drinking water, sewer and gas lines and the ability of taxpayers to afford repairs,” said Tedisco. “Just as important, with the $438 million allocated for the above ground CHIPS program, S.W.A.P. will protect the viability of the roads and bridges that will be maintained by that source of funding as we don’t want to throw good money after bad. Replicating the success of the CHIPS program on the state level to allow local governments to S.W.A.P.-out deteriorating drinking water, storm water, gas lines and sanitary sewer infrastructure makes sense because an ounce of prevention now can save tax dollars later and prevent costly breaks.”
“Providing clean, safe and ample drinking water is a preeminent concern for our villages, towns and cities. Unfortunately, the sewer infrastructure of many of our municipalities is in dire need of repair and places a burdensome financial strain on our communities. Small towns and villages simply do not have the financial and human resources to be continually repairing and replacing sewer systems and old pipes. For these reasons, we are calling on the governor and legislative leaders to include funding for the S.W.A.P program in this year’s budget. With local water contamination crises rocking our state in recent months, the last thing our residents should have to worry about is clean drinking water,” said McLaughlin.
“Partnering with our local municipalities to create an annual dedicated funding stream, similar to the successful CHIPS program, will help them fix their deteriorating water and sewer infrastructure that continues to cause serious problems for communities and create high costs for property taxpayers,” said Palmesano.
“Infrastructure funding allocated annually to each municipality through an established formula, will ensure a fair and equitable distribution of taxpayer dollars to benefit all New Yorkers,” said Clifton Park Town Supervisor Phil Barrett, who conceived of the idea for the S.W.A.P. Program. “Annual funding is beneficial to our planning efforts and the economic benefit to every region would be tremendous.”
“A major priority in the City of Troy is to invest in our water and sewer infrastructure. I look forward to working on a bipartisan basis with members of the Assembly to support passage of this critical legislation, SWAP, and acquire the necessary funding to upgrade our city's infrastructure,” said Troy City Council President Carmella Mantello.
“These investments in infrastructure would be helpful for our communities in meeting the increasing challenges that come from an aging system. I appreciate Assemblyman Tedisco's leadership and his help in ensuring our communities continue to have safe water and adequate sewers to support our growth,” said Glenville Town Supervisor Chris Koetzle.
“I am very supportive of additional state funding to local municipalities within the capital district for improving and upgrading our aging infrastructure. We are encouraged by the possibility of CHIPS (Consolidated Streets and Highway Improvement Programs) funding and the SWAP (Safe Water and Infrastructure Action Program) which Assemblymen Tedisco and McLaughlin are sponsoring. This kind of foresight is highly necessary. If this becomes reality, it will keep this precious area of our state moving forward in terms of public safety, economic and commercial growth while preventing costly future tax-burdensome repairs and upgrades in the not so distant future,” said Malta Town Supervisor Vincent DeLucia.
“It's time to invest in our aging Infrastructure below our roads along with our aging roads and bridges and culverts. This will help create job's and rebuild NY the proper way from the ground up. This will also help our businesses, economy, and most of all the value of our most valuable assets in government our infrastructure. Let's face it without water, sewer, and roads in good condition what do we have as Americans?” said Ballston Town Supervisor Timothy Szczepaniak.
“As a Town Highway Superintendent who maintains this aging infrastructure, I believe this funding is a must in order for us to supply proper services to the taxpayers of Ballston. I am all about being proactive and fixing this infrastructure now rather than later and we certainly can't do it without funding and help from our state and federal governments at a local level. This has been an issue for many of years for our nation and our state and local governments and it's time to quit pushing it under the rug,” said Ballston Highway Superintendent Joseph Whalen.
“Public water supplies and sanitary sewer systems are essential to urban and suburban living. All cities and towns must obtain adequate funding to maintain those underground piping systems. If not maintained in a timely manner catastrophic failures will endanger public health and safety. Emergency repairs are much costlier than well planned maintenance and replacement projects. We urge the state government to provide whatever funding and assistance for our cities and towns to serve our residents in the most cost effective manner,” said Clifton Park Highway Superintendent Rick Kukuk.
“I think the SWAP plan is a great idea, it does not make sense to spend money on paving a road if the underground infrastructure is in disrepair,” said Halfmoon Highway Superintendent John Pingelski.
“In a civilized, first world society, even the thought of contaminated water supplies or the environmental implications of waste and sewage spilling into the ground are unfathomable. All life needs clean water. We are so grateful to have such strong leaders as Assemblymen Tedisco and McLaughlin who recognize the precarious state of our aging underground and forgotten infrastructure, and who understand how we can incorporate cost effective, new technologies -- such as UV cured-in-place pipe lining -- to provide New Yorkers with safe solutions to what is possibly the greatest challenge to our life-sustaining underground infrastructure that we have seen in generations,” said Mara Killburn, Managing Member, Precision Trenchless.