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Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper’s Statement on the NYS Budget

Governor Cuomo and the Legislative leaders of New York have announced an agreement on the FY 2020 state budget. With this announcement comes good news for our state’s shared waters and environment:

The FY 2020 budget invests an additional $500 million in clean water infrastructure. Between 1977 and 2014, the federal government contribution to State Revolving Loan Funds for water infrastructure has dropped from 63 percent, to just 9 percent, putting a strain on local municipalities to maintain complex water infrastructure systems. It is currently projected that New York State will have $80 billion in water infrastructure needs over the next 20 years.

We commend the FY 2020 commitment of funding in order to support local municipalities in their efforts to improve our drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. However, significant commitments of local, state and federal resources will be necessary in the decades to come to keep our Great Lakes drinking water clean and healthy. The 2020 budget dedicates a record level of $300M for the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), the renewal level at which Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper had been advocating.

The EPF is the funding source for a variety of water quality improvement projects, habitat restoration, public access, and source water protection. Continued support of this fund supports improved quality of life projects for the citizens and communities in Western New York and waterways throughout the Niagara River watershed. New York will become the third state in the country to ban single-use plastic bags and allows counties and cities to opt in to a 5-cent fee on paper bags. Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper is supportive of this effort and believes that keeping plastic waste out of New York’s waterways and environment is a good thing. We see the impacts of single-use plastic in Western New York communities every day, since the trash removed by thousands of our volunteers is mostly comprised of bags, bottles, and other disposable plastic materials. Similar programs have been successfully implemented in hundreds of cities and countries around the world. Forty percent of the revenue will support local programs to buy reusable bags for low and fixed income consumers, and sixty percent of the revenue will support programs in the State’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF).

Just as we have done for the last 30 years, Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper will continue to advocate for our waterways in Albany. This includes maintaining a visible presence and productive relationship with all of our elected leaders, to ensure that Western New York is in the best position possible to secure and direct state funds to the water quality needs in our community.