Island villages earn state clean-water funds

What's in your water: Maybe not nitrates, if NSF-funded research by Northport startup Aqua Vectors comes to fruition.

Two Suffolk County clean-wastewater efforts were among a flotilla of water infrastructure-improvement projects heralded this week by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

On Friday, the governor’s office announced that projects proposed by the Village of Northport and the Village of Ocean Beach were among 15 municipal water-infrastructure efforts included in a $33 million funding package spanning Long Island and the Hudson Valley.

Cuomo: Swimming in smart investments.

Gov. Cuomo: Swimming in smart investments.

The Northport project, estimated at a total cost of $4.07 million, will receive a $1.01 million state stipend. The Ocean Beach project, estimated to cost roughly $12.39 million, is slated to receive $3.09 million from Albany.

The grants are part of the third round of funding through the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2015, which authorizes the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation to disperse $200 million in grants to help local municipalities fund drinking-water and sewage-treatment projects. Drinking-water grants are co-administered by the state’s Department of Health.

The $33 million announced for Long Island and the Hudson Valley will leverage some $120.2 million in government and private water-quality investments, with 14 of the 15 projects also receiving partial funding through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, a federal-state partnership that floats low-interest loans to help municipalities comply with federal and state water-quality requirements.

Noting “communities throughout New York are faced with aging water infrastructure that hurts the economy,” State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-Smithtown) said the state stipends would help protect not only New York’s economic interests, but its environment and its residents’ quality of life.

“These funds will help municipalities support projects that address the issues caused by weak or failing equipment so that our water is cleaner and our state is able to support increased economic growth that will create new jobs,” Flanagan said, noting Albany’s clean-water drive “will continue to be a priority of our chamber.

Grant awards were based on a scoring system that prioritized projects promising the best water-quality improvement or the greatest reduction in public health risk. Higher scores also went to projects ready to advance to the construction stage, among other considerations.

Of the 15 projects included in the Long Island-Hudson Valley package, the biggest state grant ($5 million) is going to a $20 million clean-wastewater effort in the Dutchess County Village of Wappinger Falls. That village is also scheduled to receive a separate $3 million grant toward a $5 million community drinking-water project.

The smallest grant in the LI-Hudson Valley package ($250,000) is earmarked to support a $1 million wastewater effort in Westchester’s Village of Mamaroneck.

On Monday, the third-round awards continued, with Cuomo announcing a combined $28.3 million in water-infrastructure grants in two packages spanning the Central New York and Southern Tier regions.

The FY2017 state budget includes a total of $100 million for grants through the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act.

Although this round of funding included only the two Long Island projects, Island water issues have already received some love from Albany this year. In February, Cuomo announced the state was kicking $2 million toward the establishment of a new Center for Clean Water Technology at Stony Brook University, in addition to funding a $6 million study of the Island’s drinking-water supply, with the ancillary goal of isolating the eliminating the so-called “Grumman plume.”

“Investing in water infrastructure today is key to growth and prosperity tomorrow,” Cuomo said in a statement announcing Friday’s clean-water awards. “These grants will help local governments advance important projects that will protect natural resources, ease strain on budgets and property taxpayers and help create stronger communities.”