Grants Awarded to 124 Projects to Address Documented Water Quality Impairments
$3 Million Engineering Planning Grants Awarded for 79 studies
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced today that Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's 2018 Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) annual competitive funding program awarded more than $103 million in grants to 124 projects that will improve water quality, reduce the potential for harmful algal blooms (HABs), and protect drinking water across the state. The grants are administered by DEC.
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "Access to clean water is critical to the health, safety, and economic wellbeing of our communities. With Governor Cuomo's leadership, New York is investing millions of dollars to protect and restore invaluable water resources statewide and addressing growing threats like harmful algal blooms."
Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC) President and CEO Sabrina M. Ty said, "Under Governor Cuomo, New York State has become a national model for water infrastructure investment. EFC is proud to assist these communities and with grants like those announced today, municipalities across the State are better meeting the water quality needs of their residents."
In addition, DEC and EFC awarded $3 million for 79 Engineering Planning Grants that will be used by municipalities to prepare engineering reports that advance water quality improvement projects to construction.
New York's Water Quality Improvement Project (WQIP) grant program funds projects that directly address documented water quality impairments. The EPG program funds engineering studies that will ultimately lead to wastewater treatment improvement projects that can be funded through the WQIP or other funding opportunities. These competitive, statewide grant programs are open to local governments and, in some instances, not-for-profit corporations. Eligible applicants apply for this funding through the Governor's annual Consolidated Funding Application.
Primarily funded by the Clean Water Infrastructure Act of 2017 and the State's Environmental Protection Fund, the grants are being awarded for a variety of projects, including:
- Nearly $50 million of the WQIP grants will benefit waterbodies that have suffered documented harmful algae blooms (HABs) in the last six years. These resources are part of the Governor's $60 million HABs initiative to support projects that will reduce the frequency of algal blooms across New York State. Information about funding opportunities that will be available in 2019 to support the HABs initiative is available on the DEC website.
- Approximately $72.4 million for municipal wastewater treatment facilities projects to: install disinfection equipment; upgrade municipal systems to correct combined sewer overflows and sanitary sewer overflows; remove phosphorous or nitrogen in discharges; and construct wastewater systems in communities with inadequate septic systems.
- Approximately $14 million for projects to protect surface and groundwater sources of drinking water through land acquisition.
- Approximately $5.5 million for projects to construct structures to cover salt storage piles to prevent contamination.
- Approximately $9 million for projects to control polluted runoff from non-farm sources and/or improve aquatic habitat. Nonpoint source pollution comes from many sources and is difficult to control. It can occur when rainfall or snowmelt moves over and through the ground and picks up natural and human-made pollutants, which are then dumped into our waterways.
- Approximately $2.7 million for Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) communities to complete mapping and/or purchase a vacuum truck.
A full list of grant awards is available on DEC's website. Examples of funded projects include:
- The Cayuga County Soil and Water Conservation District will enhance and restore stream corridors throughout Cayuga County to reduce sediment and nutrients entering waterbodies.
- The City of Auburn will acquire approximately 152 acres of property adjacent to Owasco Lake and the Owasco Inlet, providing a protective buffer for the city's drinking water supply.
- The Finger Lakes Land Trust will purchase properties along tributaries to Skaneateles Lake to provide natural riparian buffers that will reduce the amount of sediment and nutrients entering the lake.
- The City of Kingston's wastewater treatment improvement project will reduce the amount of untreated sewage released to Rondout Creek from its combined sewer overflow system during storm events.
- Schuyler County Soil and Water Conservation District will conduct streambank and road ditch stabilization in the Cayuga Lake watershed to reduce pollutants such as phosphorus entering the lake.
- Washington County Department of Public Works will complete the mapping of the regulated municipal separate storm sewer systems in five communities and purchase a catch basin vacuum cleaner to ensure that stormwater systems in the county are properly maintained to protect water quality.
- The Town of Colton will construct a covered salt storage facility, protecting nearby residential drinking water wells as well as Cold Brook, a tributary to the Raquette River.
- The Village of Lake George will complete an engineering report for its wastewater collection system as part of an effort to reduce sources of infiltration to its system and improve their municipal infrastructure.
WQIP grant recipients will receive up to 75 percent of the project costs for high priority wastewater treatment improvement, non-agricultural nonpoint source pollution abatement and control, land acquisition for source water protection, salt storage, aquatic habitat restoration, and municipal separate storm sewer system projects. EPG grant recipients will receive up to 80 percent of the eligible engineering planning costs.