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Officials Seek New Water Infrastructure Plan

Workers in 2016 attend to the broken pipe, preparing to weld new pieces.
WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

In the last couple winters, the city of Troy has had some bad luck with its water infrastructure. From frozen pipes last year to a break in a 33-inch water main in January that flooded parts of Lansingburgh and led to problems in surrounding communities, the city is not alone in grappling with aging infrastructure.

Mayor Patrick Madden says Troy has secured funding through the governor’s office and Environmental Facilities Corporation to construct a new water line.

“It’ll be about $3 million. And like I say, the governor’s office and EFC have been terrific in helping us get teed up for some funding.”

But Madden wishes for another solution, where infrastructure funding would be more readily available.

“And so what I’m interested in is seeing there be a program that provides funding on an annual basis to help with infrastructure,” said Madden.

In Clifton Park, in southern Saratoga County, the town board recently passed a resolution in favor of a proposed state program that would  provide and fairly distribute water and sewer infrastructure funding. The model is based on the CHIPS program that distributes aid for roads and bridges. Phil Barrett is town supervisor.

“We’ve received a tremendous amount of interest. Assemblymen Tedisco and McLaughlin are now promoting the idea as well, so we’re very pleased that the initiative is gaining momentum,” said Barrett.

The Safe Water Action Program, or S.W.A.P., would allow municipalities to swap out deteriorating pipes with new lines. In many cases, communities are dealing with pipes that are more than a century old.

Assemblyman Jim Tedisco says the cost of a burst water main is compounded by the costs of repairing overhead roads and sidewalks.

“You stop those huge breaks that cost…three to four to five times more when they bring down the roads and infrastructure on top."

Tedisco believes the program would be more beneficial than the current funding distribution model through the Economic Development Councils, nicknamed by critics Cuomo’s “Hunger Games.”

“Every municipality would have the opportunity to get funding for that and they wouldn’t have to compete for it,” said Tedisco.

Working with fellow Republican Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin, the two have written to Governor Cuomo and leaders in the Assembly and Senate to include SWAP in the new state budget.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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