Lack of Federal Funding Hurting N.Y. Water Quality

New York state's sewage-treatment aging infrastructure is in need of an estimated $36.2 billion in repairs over the next 20 years, according to a new report issued by the Department of Environmental Conservation. The report points out that federal support – historically the main source of funding for sewage-system improvements – has declined steadily, delaying critical maintenance.

The state agency delivered the report to Gov. Eliot Spitzer, the state Legislature, and the public, as mandated by the 2007-08 state budget. It is available at www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/42383.html.

In New York, federal assistance for the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund fell from $227 million in 1991 to $75.1 million in 2007. These issues are critical because an aging wastewater infrastructure is tied directly to the quality of New York state's waters. A 2004 study documented the correlation between wastewater infrastructure and water quality, finding that water quality declines when infrastructure is kept in place beyond its design life. The Department of Environmental Conservation plans to further refine the estimates to better understand the full scope of infrastructure requirements and possible cost-effective solutions.

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