Start of Construction for Third Street Sewer Project Marks Major Milestone in State's Historic $150 Million Environmental Justice Investment
$9 Million Third Street Sewer Project Ensures Reliable Wastewater Service for 4,100 Residents
Other Actions to Address Wastewater and Stormwater Challenges, Remove Lead Drinking Water Service Lines Already Underway
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced a major milestone in New York State's historic $150 million investment and partnership with City of Mount Vernon Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard and Westchester County Executive George Latimer to address longstanding environmental justice concerns as well as water infrastructure and public health challenges that have plagued the city for decades. Construction is beginning on the critically important Third Street Sewer Project which will ensure reliable wastewater service and enhanced quality of life for more than 4,100 residents in Mount Vernon impacted by broken sewer infrastructure lines.
"From project design to completion, New York State is committed to helping Mount Vernon flourish by providing the resources needed to correct past injustices in a community of color that has been disproportionately overburdened by pollution,” Governor Hochul said. "In just one year, we have made extensive progress on this project to improve the well-being of the community, and I look forward to continuing this partnership as we build a brighter, healthier future for Mount Vernon."
Start of construction on the Third Street Sewer project marks approximately one year since Governor Hochul's announcement of the $150 million investment and three-way partnership with Mount Vernon and Westchester County to update the aging and failed water infrastructure that reduced the quality of life for this environmental justice community.
This innovative State-County-City partnership was memorialized in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to expedite priority projects and outline roles, responsibilities, and available funding for this city-wide effort. The MOU formalizes the three-way partnership between the city of Mount Vernon, Westchester County, and New York State including the use of $9 million in Clean Water Infrastructure Act funds for engineering, design, and construction work associated with the Third Street Sewer Project.
The project is breaking ground after an accelerated planning and design process and will ensure reliable wastewater service for 4,100 nearby residents currently minimally served by temporary pumps and a makeshift system staged in the middle of Third Street. Further improvements across the city are set to take place in phases over five to seven years.
Projects began immediately last year and are ongoing to provide an additional $6 million from the Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC) to fund 33 priority repair projects and $10 million from the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for the assessment, remedial design, and full repair of the "Outfall 24" collection line that discharges raw sewage to the Hutchinson River. EFC dedicated an additional $2 million for engineering consultant services to accelerate work. Mount Vernon and DEC are also undertaking a $1 million asset management program to inventory, assess, and track the city's water infrastructure and help create a plan to fund and maintain Mount Vernon's water quality infrastructure over the long-term.
Lead Pipe Replacement
The New York State Department of Health (DOH) is actively working with the Mount Vernon Board of Water Supply (MVBWS) on the $1 million lead service line inventory project. The $1 million grant financing agreement with EFC was approved by Mount Vernon on Sept. 14, 2022, and MVBWS has begun their inventory efforts by reviewing their archive of more than 12,500 water accounts. Of the approximately 8,300 service line records reviewed to date, approximately 5,300 indicate the presence of a lead portion. In addition to the full archive review, anticipated to be completed by the fall of 2024, MVBWS launched community engagement efforts in April with public information mailings and the creation of a lead service line program website, as coordination with the public on this initiative is crucial to its long-term success. The lead service line inventory is a key step to comprehensive action to replace the lead lines.
Mount Vernon Healthy Homes Initiative
Construction has also begun on the first homes awarded under the Mount Vernon Healthy Homes pilot program. The $3 million program, administered by New York State Homes and Community Renewal's Office of Resilient Homes and Communities (RHC), is in addition to the state's $150 million investment and is installing residential sewer-related improvements in neighborhoods at high-risk for wastewater backflow. The pilot targets the most frequently impacted and high-risk properties that have been affected by the crisis. It helps New York fulfill its goal to build resilient homes that adapt to a changing climate while prioritizing communities that were underprioritized in the past.
Residents that are approved to participate in Mount Vernon Healthy Homes will be eligible to receive the following improvements:
- New sanitary sewer backflow prevention device
- Wastewater drainage improvements
- New whole house water filtration system
- Replacement of up to two low-flow toilets
- Clean-up and remediation after damage or mold from wastewater flooding
- Other environmental remediation of hazards such as lead paint or asbestos
"From project design to completion, New York State is committed to helping Mount Vernon flourish by providing the resources needed to correct past injustices in a community of color that has been disproportionately overburdened by pollution."
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer said, "Mount Vernon residents have been plagued by the fear of toxic sewage polluting their water and backing up into their homes for far too long. Access to clean and reliable water is a fundamental right that can no longer be ignored. With the groundbreaking of the Third Street Sewer Project, we're making major strides towards addressing environmental justice concerns and improving the quality of life for city residents. I've worked tirelessly to make sure that Mount Vernon has the federal support needed to fix its sewer system and build the water-sewage infrastructure that the city deserves. From securing over $11.7 billion in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for the EPA's Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) over the next five years, which provided over $200 million to New York State's CWSRF last year alone, to delivering $41 million for the City of Mount Vernon in the American Rescue Plan, we're committed to getting the city's sewer system flowing in the right direction. I commend Governor Hochul for her efforts to reach this major milestone and I won't stop fighting until every single resident has access to clean and safe water."
Representative Jamaal Bowman said, "In the face of climate change and unpredictable weather events, it's more important than ever for us to invest in resilient infrastructure. Clean water is essential to every community's ability to function. I'm glad to see Governor Hochul making the health and safety of Mount Vernon residents a priority."
Westchester County Executive George Latimer said, "Today, we celebrate the progress made in addressing longstanding environmental justice concerns and water infrastructure challenges in Mount Vernon. Clean water is a fundamental human right, and we must ensure that every community has access to safe and reliable drinking water. The start of construction on the Third Street Sewer Project marks a major milestone in our historic partnership, and enhanced quality of life for more than 4,100 residents here in Mount Vernon."
Mount Vernon Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard said, "Governor Hochul's commitment to addressing our long-standing sanitary and stormwater infrastructure challenges is commendable. The Third Street Sewer Project is a collaborative effort between the City of Mount Vernon, the State of New York, and Westchester County. It aims to replace aging sewer infrastructure, address capacity issues, and mitigate the risk of sewer backups and related environmental concerns. The project's successful implementation will not only enhance public health and safety but also contribute to the overall revitalization and sustainability of our city. We are committed to addressing the disproportionate impacts of pollution and environmental hazards on marginalized communities. With the support of Governor Hochul, we are making significant strides towards a healthier and safer Mount Vernon."
State Senator Jamaal Bailey said, "Today, we celebrate an important milestone and the incredible progress that has been made to create a healthier and more resilient future for the great city of Mount Vernon. The Third Street Sewer Project, along with ongoing repairs and lead pipe replacement efforts, represent a historic investment in our city and continued commitment from my partners in government to address longstanding wastewater and stormwater infrastructure challenges, remove lead drinking water service lines, and build resilient homes. I want to thank Governor Kathy Hochul, Mount Vernon Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard, Westchester County Executive George Latimer, and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos for taking swift action to address the most urgent needs of our community and ensure a brighter future for generations to come."
Dr. Catherine Coleman Flowers, CEO of the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice, said, "The work being done by Governor Hochul and the City of Mount Vernon Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard is a perfect example of how local and state governments can come together to implement clean water and sanitation infrastructure while also considering the environmental justice and climate change impacts on local communities. I look forward to the continued progress of this partnership."
EPA Regional Administrator Lisa F. Garcia said, "Today's announcement underscores the importance of investing in America to improve people's lives, create jobs, and improve water quality for communities like Mount Vernon. New York's impressive $150 million investment in this community is being augmented by federal funds. The American Rescue Plan allocated $41 million to Mount Vernon, and they are slated to get other federal funding through the unprecedented infusion of water infrastructure funds from President Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law."
Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "DEC is proud of the significant progress underway to help achieve Governor Hochul's historic commitment to the people of Mount Vernon. Working together in partnership with Mayor Patterson-Howard, County Executive Latimer, and our sister agencies, DEC is working to address decades of inequity and injustice by helping property owners meet their most basic needs with effective clean water investments that will transform this community."
Environmental Facilities Corporation President and CEO Maureen A. Coleman said, "EFC is excited to celebrate a year of continuous communication and cooperation among the City of Mount Vernon, County of Westchester and our four partner agencies to help empower Mount Vernon by providing the funding, resources and technical assistance necessary for the city to begin making immediate fixes to critical infrastructure. From planning and design to construction, EFC is committed to working shoulder-to-shoulder with Mayor Patterson-Howard and Public Works Commissioner Bush to help transform the city's crumbling infrastructure into a resilient system that residents deserve. The success of this partnership reflects Governor Hochul's commitment to Mayor Patterson-Howard and the residents of Mount Vernon."
Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, “When Governor Hochul called us to action in Mount Vernon, we moved quickly to complement the State's historic investment with direct support to the residents most impacted by the water and sewer crisis. Thanks to the partnership with our Federal, State, and City partners, we are providing dozens of families with the peace of mind that comes from a safe and healthy home."
Department of Health Acting Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said, "DOH is thrilled to see that the collaboration between the City of Mount Vernon, the County of Westchester, and all partnering agencies has led to the start of construction on the water infrastructure, and the beginning of long-overdue improvements to the health of these New Yorkers. The Department thanks Governor Hochul for her enduring commitment to safe drinking water for Mount Vernon residents and all New Yorkers now and for years to come."
Chief Counsel at the Natural Resources Defense Council Mitch Bernard said, "For decades, residents of Mount Vernon, a majority-Black community, have been dealing with crumbling pipes and flooded basements with little recourse. Finally, they're getting some relief. With the completion of these wastewater infrastructure projects, the community will serve as a model for infrastructure agreements across the country to show that collaboration with state and local government can make things happen."
New York Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow said, “On behalf of the residents of Mount Vernon, I wanted to thank Governor Kathy Hochul for her leadership and expediency in addressing the city’s sewage and water problem. The rebuilding of Mount Vernon’s infrastructure is the state’s commitment to sanitation and justice for all. This unprecedented collaboration between the state of New York, the County of Westchester, and the city of Mount Vernon is truly what good government looks like and stands for.”
New York's Commitment to Clean Water
New York continues to increase its investments in clean water infrastructure. The 2023-24 Enacted budget included an additional $500 million in clean water funding as proposed by Governor Hochul, bringing New York's total clean water infrastructure investment to $5 billion since 2017. To leverage these investments and ensure ongoing coordination with local governments, the Governor proposed the creation of Community Assistance Teams to provide proactive outreach to small, rural, and disadvantaged communities to help them access financial assistance to address their clean water infrastructure needs. The initiative was recently launched and outreach meetings are underway. Any community that needs help with their water infrastructure needs is encouraged to contact EFC at efc.ny.gov/CAT.
In addition, voters approved the $4.2 billion Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act in November 2022, advancing additional, historic levels of funding to update aging water infrastructure and protect water quality, strengthen communities' ability to withstand severe storms and flooding, reduce air pollution and lower climate-altering emissions, restore habitats, 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. During Earth Week, Governor Hochul announced the first availability of Bond Act funding that, when combined with existing state funding sources, totals $425 million being made available in state water grant funding. Applications are due by July 28 and more information can be found at efc.ny.gov/wiia.
Contact the Governor’s Press Office
Contact us by phone:
New York City: (212) 681 - 4640