State Investment Advances the Buffalo Sewer Authority's Plan to Improve Treatment and Reduce Sewer Overflows to the Niagara River
Modernizing Aging Infrastructure Will Help Protect Public Health and the Environment
In conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the historic federal Clean Water Act, Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the start of construction on a $55 million wastewater improvement project at the Bird Island Wastewater Treatment Facility in the City of Buffalo. New York State is investing $55 million to fund the project, which is part of the Buffalo Sewer Authority's long-term plan to modernize the Bird Island facility and significantly reduce the amount of pollution that enters the Niagara River. The project will help ensure cleaner, healthier water for all residents and visitors to Buffalo and the greater Western New York area.
"Together in strong partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, New York State is putting an end to decades of disinvestment in critical water infrastructure that has been left to fall into disrepair," Governor Hochul said. "This $55 million project will be crucial to safeguarding our public and environmental health, and is the latest investment in our nation-leading efforts to modernize New York's water infrastructure. My administration is committed to maximizing New York State's unprecedented clean water investments and the historic funding in the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help protect our precious water resources, and provide a healthy environment for our families, businesses and communities to thrive."
The project broke ground at a ceremony in Buffalo today in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The event demonstrated New York's nation-leading commitment to clean water infrastructure investments and to the fundamental objective of the Clean Water Act, adopted in October 1972, "to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the Nation's waters."
The start of construction on this project is a key milestone in the Buffalo Sewer Authority's course to resolve longstanding violations of the Clean Water Act under an administrative order from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that was developed in coordination with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The Bird Island Wastewater Treatment Facility was originally constructed in the 1930s and upgraded in the 1970s. The project announced today is part of the Buffalo Sewer Authority's long-term plan to bring aging infrastructure into compliance with current standards. This project will increase the facility's capacity to handle intense rain events that can overwhelm Buffalo's combined sewer/stormwater system. These improvements will reduce untreated sewage effluent discharges to the Niagara River. Future projects in the plan include more robust sewage treatment processes and collection system improvements.
New York State has committed $55 million in grants and low-cost financing to fund this project, the Environmental Facilities Corporation provided a $9 million grant from the Water Infrastructure Improvement grant program and a $9 million grant from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and the Department of Environmental Conservation provided $10 million in state funding from the Water Quality Improvement Project grant program. The Environmental Facilities Corporation is funding the remaining cost of the project with low-cost financing through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund.
Under Governor Hochul's leadership, the Environmental Facilities Corporation and the Department of Environmental Conservation have awarded more than $900 million in state-funded grants to improve municipal clean water infrastructure in this past year alone. The Environmental Facilities Corporation operates the largest Clean Water State Revolving Fund in the nation, having provided over $33.4 billion in financial assistance to New York municipalities for clean water projects since 1990.
New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation President and CEO Maureen A. Coleman said, "The significant resources included in today's announcement underscore Governor Hochul's commitment to help ensure all of New York's communities have the financial assistance necessary to undertake their critical sewer and drinking water projects. The Environmental Facilities Corporation anticipates more success stories as we couple the State's nation-leading water quality investment with the historic funding in the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law."
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner and Chair of the Environmental Facilities Corporation Basil Seggos said, "The Department of Environmental Conservation applauds the City of Buffalo for moving this critically important project forward and working closely with the State to protect the region's water quality. With State resources in the form of significant grants and low-cost loans, Governor Hochul is once again demonstrating New York's ongoing support for municipal clean water infrastructure upgrades that will make noteworthy progress in improving the environment, habitat, and quality of life for Western New Yorkers, while creating good paying 'green' construction jobs."
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer said, "I championed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act - with places like Buffalo in mind - to finally make the critical upgrades to our aging wastewater infrastructure, ensure Western NY families are provided safe drinking water, and keep natural gems like the Niagara River and the Great Lakes free of sewer overflows. I am proud to deliver the federal funding to modernize Buffalo's wastewater infrastructure, and I applaud Governor Hochul for putting these federal dollars to good use keeping New Yorkers safe, healthy, and getting good-paying jobs flowing."
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said, “New Yorkers have the right to expect clean and safe water in our streams and rivers. I applaud Governor Hochul on this investment and I’m proud to have delivered $2.6 billion in federal funding to improve water infrastructure across New York State. I’ll keep fighting to bring as many federal dollars home to New York as possible to ensure access to clean water and a safe environment for all.”
Representative Brian Higgins said, "In 1968, after years of industrial pollution the Buffalo River caught fire, also sparking the very first Earth Day where the public demanded change to provide protections for clean air, land, and water. Great progress has been made since the Clean Water Act was signed into law 50 years ago. This project builds on the progress we've made to clean up local waterways and provide the residents of Buffalo and Western New York with a healthier environment."
State Senator Sean Ryan said, "The upgrades to the Bird Island Wastewater Treatment Facility represent a significant investment into the health of our local environment and the safety of Western New Yorkers. By reducing sewer overflow pollution, this project will make the Niagara River safer for recreational activities and protect the fish and wildlife that inhabit the river."
State Senator Tim Kennedy said, "This historic project will improve our environment and ensure the long-term stability of Buffalo's wastewater treatment infrastructure. This partnership between all levels of government is a shining example of what we can accomplish when we work together and invest in our infrastructure and our environment. Congratulations to everyone whose hard work has led to this day."
Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown said, "Ensuring our city's infrastructure is keeping pace with development and is important to the success of our community's continued growth - the $55 million Secondary Treatment System Rehabilitation Project at the Buffalo Sewer Authority's Bird Island Treatment Facility is a major piece of that. I thank Governor Hochul and our other local, state, and federal leaders who were instrumental in getting this project off the ground. Upgrading this facility is another example of my Administration's longstanding commitment to rebuild for an even stronger, healthier, and more sustainable Buffalo."
New York's Commitment to Water Quality
New York continues to increase investments in clean water infrastructure projects. Governor Hochul's 2022-23 Enacted Budget authorizes an additional $1.2 billion, for a total of $4.2 billion, for the proposed Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act. This historic initiative, to be taken up by voters in November, includes funding to update aging water infrastructure and protect water quality; reduce air pollution and lower climate-altering emissions; restore habitats; strengthen communities' ability to withstand severe storms and flooding; preserve outdoor spaces and local farms; and ensure equity by investing at least 35 percent, with a goal of 40 percent, of resources in disadvantaged communities.
In addition, the Governor's enacted budget included another $500 million in clean water infrastructure funding, bringing the State's total clean water investment to $4.5 billion since 2017. It also includes a record $400 million Environmental Protection Fund to support climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts, improve agricultural resources to promote sustainable agriculture, protect our water sources, advance conservation efforts and provide recreational opportunities for New Yorkers.
Local Governments Encouraged to Participate in Clean Watersheds Needs Survey
The Environmental Facilities Corporation is urging municipalities to participate in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Clean Watersheds Needs Survey, which the Environmental Facilities Corporation kicked off in New York on March 1. Participation is critical as it may impact how much federal Clean Water State Revolving Fund dollars will be allocated to New York State to fund future clean water infrastructure projects. Municipalities are asked to document their community's wastewater infrastructure needs for submission to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Go to https://efc.ny.gov/needs to submit documentation and for resources to assist with submissions.
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