Albany, NY - New York's Health Commissioner says the state is willing to work with federal agencies to set water quality standards. But the State Senate's Health Chair says he wants New York to set its own standards.
Following last year's discovery of high levels of the contaminant PFOA in Hoosick Falls' and the surrounding area's drinking water, Governor Andrew Cuomo, set aside $2 billion in the budget to test water supplies and repair cities' old pipes.
"What the governor is talking about is more about grants, it's more about low interest loans. What we're talking about is a guaranteed source of money that municipalities can count on," said Senator James Tedisco.
Members of both majority houses say the guarantee is in the Safe Water Infrastructure Action Program, or SWAP. The program would provide cities with state money every three months. It would use a formula similar to the current one used to divide state dollars to repair roads and bridges.
"We feel that a formula-based program gets the money there in the fastest, most efficient way," said Assemblyman Phil Steck.
SWAP would provide money based on the size of the pipe problem, instead of the region it's in.
"We want to make sure that the infrastructure funding is at least level for downstate and upstate, " Tedisco said.
Tedisco is asking for roughly $440 million dollars from the state, the same amount set aside to fix crumbling roads.
Senate Democrats unveiled a plan Thursday for the State Dept. of Health to set standards for drinking water supplies, beyond federal levels. Tedisco and other lawmakers say talks are going on to bring this to the negotiating table in time for the budget, but they say the Governor should act now.
"It costs two, three, four or five times the amount when you have a sewer break and it breaks down a beautiful road that you built. You can pay now, or you can pay later," Tedisco said.
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