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July 5, 2017

Funding to Support Vital Infrastructure Projects in Communities Throughout the North Country, Mid-Hudson Valley and Southern Tier Regions

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that nearly $37 million in grants and interest-free, low-cost loans have been approved by the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation Board of Directors to support vital drinking water and wastewater infrastructure projects across New York. The Board's approval includes more than $9 million in grants awarded under the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act.

"Improving and modernizing New York's water infrastructure is a top priority of this administration, and this investment will help communities across the state upgrade their infrastructure and lay the foundation for future growth," Governor Cuomo said. "This latest round of funding will help these North Country, Mid-Hudson Valley and Southern Tier local governments build a stronger, healthier future for their residents and bring us ever upward."

To date, $225 million in WIIA grants have leveraged over $1 billion in total project costs for over 120 projects in New York State. These grants combined with low or no-interest loans have resulted in over $629 million in taxpayer savings.

Additionally, this year under the $2.5 billion Clean Water Infrastructure Act of 2017, $255 million in funding was made available for vital drinking water and wastewater infrastructure upgrades available.

Environmental Facilities Corporation President and CEO Sabrina M. Ty said, “Governor Cuomo recognizes that water infrastructure improvements are essential to the health, safety and economic vitality of the State's communities. These programs support critical upgrades to ensure our drinking water and wastewater systems are operating safely and protecting water quality."

Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner and Environmental Facilities Corporation Chair Basil Seggos said, "For many municipalities, critically needed upgrades and improvements to drinking water systems and wastewater treatment plants are cost prohibitive. Governor Cuomo recognizes the fiscal obstacles local governments face and is helping to remove them by providing creative financial solutions that will strengthen and protect water quality infrastructure in communities across New York State."

Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, "Access to clean water is paramount to the health and wellbeing of New Yorkers in communities across the state. This latest round of funding builds on Governor Cuomo’s unwavering commitment to improving water infrastructure and protecting one of the state’s most precious resources."

Grants approved at the board meeting, which took place on Thursday, June 29, along with the interest-free and low-interest loans provided by EFC, allow municipalities to finance these projects at a significantly lower rate than financing on their own.
The projects approved at the June 29 meeting include:

Mid-Hudson Valley

  • City of Newburgh, Orange County  $12.5 million, including a $3.1 million WIIA grant, and a $9.4 million zero interest loan, to finance the costs associated with the planning, design and construction of improvements contained in the City’s Long Term Control Plan for Newburgh's combined sewage collection system and wastewater treatment plant.

North Country

  • Town of Cape Vincent, Jefferson County – $2.3 million, including a $622,140 WIIA grant, a $905,537 zero interest loan, and $790,914 in a previously approved DWSRF grant for the construction of a new distribution system to serve the Town of Cape Vincent Water District #6.
  • Village of Carthage, Jefferson County – $3.5 million, including a $2.8 million zero interest loan to finance the costs associated with the planning, design and construction of upgrades and equipment replacement at the Carthage-West Carthage Joint Water Pollution Control Facility.
  • Town of Clifton, St. Lawrence County – $4 million, including a $2.3 million WIIA grant, a $425,845 zero interest loan, and a $851,688 low-interest loan for the installation of a new transmission main between the Town of Clifton's Newton Falls water district and the Town of Fine water system.
  • Village of West Carthage, Jefferson County – $8.3 million, including a $6.5 million zero-interest loan to finance costs associated with the planning, design and construction of upgrades and equipment replacement at the Carthage-West Carthage Joint Water Pollution Control Facility.

Southern Tier

  • Village of Stamford, Delaware County – $6.2 million, including a $2.96 million WIIA grant for the construction of a new water storage tank and control building to replace the Village's existing aged water storage tank. This project also includes replacement of aged and/or undersized water distribution mains with new mains and distribution main looping at several locations throughout the Village.

New York State leads the nation with the largest annual investment in water-quality infrastructure of any state. Since 2011, EFC has provided more than $11.5 billion in subsidized loans, grants and loan re-financings to local governments.

June 22, 2017

Trumansburg wastewater treatment facilities ribbon cutting

Mayor A. Martin Petrovic and the Board of Trustees invite all Trumansburg area residents to attend the ribbon cutting for the Water and Wastewater Treatment Facilities at the north entrance of Taughannock State Park on June 28 at 7 p.m. 

Working with engineering design firm MRB Group, the Village has made significant upgrades to the Water and the Wastewater facilities, addressing environmental and operational issues, and increasing the efficiency and dependability of both systems.

Each project was completed using funds secured through the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation (NYS EFC) program which included interest free financing and over $2.5 million in grant dollars. Through the collaborative efforts of the Village of Trumansburg, Town of Ulysses, Taughannock Falls State Park, and many other involved agencies, each project has now reached substantial completion.

While the term “sustainable” typically relates to environmental conservation, MRB Group Team Leader Bill Davis maintains its importance to not only the environment, but also to the water and wastewater treatment infrastructure, and the community itself.

“We plan for the long-term success of the Village of Trumansburg. This means serving the needs of residents with reliable infrastructure maintained at the highest levels of efficiency at a low cost,” said Davis.

“With the completion of these state-of-the-art, efficient facilities, both projects will benefit residents in the Village of Trumansburg for many years to come,” said Mayor Petrovic,

The ribbon cutting will be preceded by a guided tour of the Wastewater Treatment Plant from 5 to 6:30 p.m.

June 15, 2017

Town Selected for Pilot Program to Help Better Manage Sewer Systems

CARMEL, N.Y.— The town of Carmel has been selected as one of 10 statewide communities to participate in a new $3 million pilot program sponsored by the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC) to help it better manage its sewer systems.

In the pilot program, an engineering firm will work free of charge with the town’s engineering department to develop asset management planning for Carmel Sewer District 4, 5, 6, and 7 to improve operations, management, and maintenance of the wastewater treatment plants and sewage collection and conveyance systems.

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said the program is an example of the depth of the state’s investment.

“Municipalities will receive expert advice and assistance at no cost, allowing them to better manage resources and serve communities,” he said. “A municipal sewage system that is properly functioning, well-maintained, and fiscally sustainable for the long-term will protect public health and safety, as well as the environment.”

According to Sabrina Ty, EFC president, the state is continuing to expand the tools and financial assistance that is available to municipalities in order to address their water infrastructure needs.

“This new pilot program will assist municipalities to more efficiently manage their existing systems while assessing future needs,” she said.

The town’s engineering department requested participation in the program in January 2016 and was notified this month that Carmel was selected.

The engineering department will work with the DEC, EFC, and the engineering firm Barton & Loguidice (B&L) to develop its municipal asset management plans. During the pilot, the town will implement the plans and provide feedback to DEC and EFC.

Officials said that system improvements help wastewater treatment plants owners operate facilities more efficiently by saving resources. They said asset management focuses on managing the critical and physical components of a wastewater system (e.g., treatment facilities, pipes, tanks and pumps) with the goal of minimizing the overall costs of owning and operating these assets while delivering quality services to customers and protecting public health and the environment.

For the pilot, DEC chose 10 communities with wastewater treatment plants that represent a variety of wastewater systems to learn how asset management works in different places around the state.

DEC will use the data gathered during the pilot program to finalize its asset management program guidance. The guidance will then be released for public comment before finalization.

Article provided by the town of Carmel Supervisor’s Office

May 27, 2017

In Williamsville, new green features cut stormwater runoff despite rainy spring

Water used to rush down East Spring Street from Main Street in Williamsville during heavy rains, carrying oil and other particulates into storm drains, which discharged into Glen Park and Ellicott Creek.

"We had a few rain events where the outlet pipe was completely full," said Ben Vilonen, crew chief for the village's department of public works. "It looked like someone was shooting a hose out into the park, an 8-inch diameter hose."

But during this spring's unusually rainy season, that torrent has been reduced to a trickle due to a $3.3 million "green infrastructure" project recently completed that includes about a dozen rain gardens, permeable paving and a "green wall" of geosynthetic fabric planted with grasses.

Now, rather than cascading into the park, runoff from Main Street and village parking lots collects in the rain gardens where particulates are filtered out and broken down by plants. Water also flows into the gaps in interlocking paving stones on a new plaza in front of the Williamsville Water Mill and is filtered through a highly porous gravel below. The interconnected gravel forms a continuous storm drain system.Then there's Williamsville's green wall, which "is one-of-a-kind around Western New York," according to Chris Murawski, director of citizen engagement for Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper.

Made of geosynthetic fabric, the green wall has a series of voids that hold soil and have been planted with grasses to create a natural appearance. It stabilizes the steep slope north of the bend in the road near the mill, where the outfall for the rain gardens and permeable paving is located.

Williamsville isn't the only municipality in New York State that has tackled green projects to reduce runoff into storm sewers. There's also projects in Buffalo, including on Ohio Street, at SUNY Buffalo State and on Niagara Street where more than $20 million of work will continue this year.

But a green infrastructure project on the scale of Williamsville's is unprecedented in such a small suburban municipality, said Murawski.

"It's an innovative project because of the scope and all the different treatments that they did within one project area," he said.

The Spring Street features appear to be functioning as they were designed, experts say.

While lab test results are expected in several weeks, storm water monitoring has found that the "turbidity," or cloudiness, of water entering the Ellicott Creek has decreased, said Murawski.

"Anecdotally, the flow is definitely less for a comparable rain event and the turbidity is definitely less," he said.

Outfall from Spring Street was sampled during four rain events of ¼ inch or more, before and after construction.

The test results are expected to show a decrease in nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous from lawn fertilizer runoff, as well as "total suspended solids," which can include petroleum products, road salt, silt, dirt and brake dust, he said.

That means less pollution upstream for Ellicott Creek, which was the goal when the village made Spring Street part of its "Picture Main Street" initiative in 2011, said Mayor Brian J. Kulpa.

"We're not pouring from the road into the creek," he said. "We're using the earth, plant material and the green wall as a giant filter."

Locally, green infrastructure projects are seen most often in Buffalo, including Ohio Street, which received $12 million in improvements completed in 2015. SUNY Buffalo State's new LEED-certified Technology Building includes rain gardens to capture runoff from the parking lot and a "green roof" fed by rainwater.

Reconstruction of a 4.4 mile stretch of Niagara Street in Buffalo, from South Elmwood Avenue to Ontario Street, includes planters of grasses and planting strips with street trees designed to store rainwater underground instead of letting it pool on sidewalks or driveways. It helps prevent roadway runoff from entering Black Rock Canal or Scajaquada Creek, said Julie Barrett O'Neill, green programs director for the Buffalo Sewer Authority.

"There's a very direct connection between what's happening on the streetscape and what's happening in their waterway," she said. "It's a really strong place to show the connection between what we do on land and what goes into the water."

Work on the final portion of Niagara, the 3.3 miles from Porter Avenue to Ontario Street, is expected to begin this fall. The city is also giving the green infrastructure treatment this year to portions of William Street in the Pratt Willard neighborhood and Northland Avenue.

Williamsville is also not done. South Long Street is also targeted for a $1.5 million makeover to include green infrastructure and streetscape improvements such as better stormwater management to support new development in the southwest corner of the village. Construction of the South Long Community Project is expected to begin this year.

On sunny days East Spring Street now functions as Williamsville's new village square, with the mill as its centerpiece. The mill was purchased last year by Howard and Tara Cadmus and became the home of Sweet Jenny's Ice Cream.

"It's wonderful," said Howard Cadmus of the new village square. "Families love it. It's a great place to congregate and to have events. It exceeds the expectations for how it should function because people are out here every night."