Rally for water infrastructure spending ahead of budget deadline

Original story posted by News Channel 13 WNYT
March 20, 2017

ALBANY -- There was no better place to call for water infrastructure spending than in the Legislative Office Building's well. A group of bipartisan lawmakers, labor, and environmentalists held a Rebuild NY Now Water Infrastructure rally there on Monday.  

"The question is: what are you here to support? The answer is: all of it because the need is so big," said Mike Elmendorf, President and CEO of Associated General Contractors of New York State.  

The oft-cited figure at the rally was $80 billion over 20 years. That's the highest estimate of fixing New York's crumbling water infrastructure.

We've seen the problems in the Capital Region, from an Albany sinkhole to a massive Troy water main break to sewage spewing into the rivers in Amsterdam and Watervliet. Even the rain is a problem.

"When we have extreme weather or large rainfalls we are still letting the sewer overflow into the Hudson. I'm not from here, and I have to say it was probably one of the most shocking things I learned," said Assemblywoman Pat Fahy, D - Albany.

In the proposed budgets of both lawmaking houses and the governor are $2 billion to be spent over 5 years.

The senate included an extra $5 billion bond act.

"It's maybe a little bit unusual for the Republican conference in the Senate to be leading the charge of an additional $5 billion. But we feel it's that important," said Tom O'Mara, R - Environmental Protection Committee Chair

"We are all together on the same page, singing the same song," said Assemblyman John McDonald, D - Cohoes.

Liz Moran of Environmental Advocates wants the state to spend 800 million dollars a year. Still, it would be just a start to fixing an apparently 80 billion dollar problem.

"This is the year to do it, we have communities in New York where people can't drink the water right now," said Moran.

The state budget is due April 1.