Adirondack Park communities receive other grants for infrastructure projects
By Gwendolyn Craig
Money from a $4.2 billion environmental bond act voters passed last fall is starting to flow, but so far, not to the Adirondacks.
Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the state’s first funding promises from the Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act of 2022 this week. The $200 million in awards is less than 5% of its total. The announcement mixed bond act monies with $249 million from the state’s Water Infrastructure and Improvement and Intermunicipal Grant programs, from which some Adirondack communities did receive funds.
“Pairing state investments with Bond Act funding for this enhanced round of grants will help ensure taps are delivering safe drinking water to New Yorkers and that wastewater facilities continue to protect the environment and can withstand the impacts of climate change,” said Maureen Coleman, president and CEO of the Environmental Facilities Corporation. The EFC, which helps municipalities with water infrastructure funding, awarded the grants with assistance from the state Departments of Health and Environmental Conservation.
Hochul made the announcement in Long Island, featuring its aging water infrastructure. The Democratic governor highlighted how she and state legislators increased former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s bond act proposal of about $3 billion to the current $4.2 billion.
“If we didn’t have that Bond Act, it would take decades for us to have the resources to make these investments,” Hochul said. “But you know what? We don’t have decades because climate change is with us right now, and I have said this many times. We are the first generation to truly feel the effects of climate change. And we are the last ones to be able to do anything about it. That’s what we’re announcing here today, is making these investments and making sure that we do what’s smart.”
First environmental bond act since 1996
This is the first major environmental bond act voters passed since 1996 when $1.75 billion in borrowing was authorized for environmental spending. Adirondackers were split when voting for the 2022 bond act. The majority of voters in Hamilton, Lewis, Herkimer and Fulton counties voted against the bond act, whereas voters in Essex, Franklin, Clinton, Warren, Washington and Saratoga counties were mostly in support, according to The New York Times.
The governor’s announcement gave the public its first opportunity to compare and contrast the state’s accounting of its environmental borrowing from 1996 to today. Perhaps most notably, websites and interactive maps are helping tell the story, rather than hard copy reports.
The Environmental Facilities Corporation features a list of the latest infrastructure awards on its website. It includes an interactive map and charts showcasing what pots of money funded the projects.
Two projects in the North Country region did see environmental bond act funds, including the city of Ogdensburg in St. Lawrence County and the city of Plattsburgh in Clinton County. Plattsburgh was awarded $5 million toward an $8.575 million drinking water system project and Ogdensburg $651,000 toward a $2.6 million infrastructure replacement project.
Other infrastructure funding sources
Adirondack Park-area projects awarded funds under the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act included:
- $470,683 toward $3,882,733 needed for general improvements at the town of Webb in Herkimer County;
- $1,512,500 toward $12,450,000 needed for upgrading the village of Lake Placid’s wastewater treatment plant in Essex County;
- $7,743,293 toward $30,973,173 needed for water system upgrades in the town of Ticonderoga in Essex County;
- $1,644,543 toward $11,076,000 needed in infrastructure improvements in the village of Corinth in Saratoga County; and
- $1,148,438 toward $4,856,250 needed in wastewater treatment plant upgrades in the village of Fort Ann in Washington County.
The Hochul administration said the approximately $450 million in awards will help save $1.3 billion and create 24,000 jobs.
The state also announced a $30 million Septic System Replacement Program, “encouraging and incentivizing homeowners’ replacement of cesspools and failing or inadequate septic systems around a waterbody known to be impaired by septic system discharges,” according to a release.
Homeowners can be reimbursed 50% of eligible costs up to $10,000. The program is locally administered by participating counties. Some of the water bodies in the Adirondacks involved in the program so far include Lake George in Warren County, Beaver River in Lewis County and Lake Eaton in Hamilton County. For a full list of participating counties and water bodies, as well as information on how to apply go to https://efc.ny.gov/septic-replacement.
Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to clarify this is the first environmental bond act, not first bond act, voters have passed since 1996.