Schumer calls for federal funds to address aging water system infrastructure

by Michael Petro, originally posted on July 21, 2016


New York’s senior senator is calling the major water main break affecting northern Erie County a wake-up call to address local water and sewer infrastructure issues.

In the wake of the water main break that happened around 8:30 p.m. last night, Sen. Chuck Schumer said Thursday that he’ll pursue federal funds to assist Erie County in the effort to invest in an aging infrastructure.

The water main break has impacted the towns of Amherst, Clarence, Lancaster, Newstead and villages of Williamsville, Lancaster and Depew. A Boil Water Notice from the county has been issued to all of those areas.

Schumer said he’ll be working with the Erie County Water Authority and other municipal water providers on ways to upgrade water and sewer infrastructure and pursue money from the federally-supported and state-administered Drinking Water State Revolving Fund ‎and the Clean Water State Revolving Fund. Each year these programs receive more than $2 billion in federal funding.

According to Schumer, New York has some of the oldest sewer and water systems in the country, and Upstate communities “desperately need their water mains upgraded.”

When water mains lose pressure it increases the chance that untreated water and harmful microbes can enter your water. Harmful microbes in drinking water can cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches or other symptoms and may pose a special health risk for infants, some elderly and people with severely compromised immune systems.

“If the major water main break in Northern Erie County last night wasn’t a wake-up call that our infrastructure is falling apart, then I don’t what is,” said Schumer. “It is simply unacceptable that in the 21st century, New Yorkers have to boil their water before drinking. … Access to clean water shouldn’t even be a question for Erie County residents.”

Schumer has helped secure hundreds of millions of dollars for communities across Upstate to invest in their water systems. Recently, in the Town of Westfield, just south of Erie County, $1 million in federal funding was secured to repair aging water systems that were resulting in frequent water line breaks and boil water orders.

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