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New York Congressman Paul Tonko and Mechanicville officials announce federal funds for water infrastructure

Mechanicville Mayor Mike Butler with Congressman Paul Tonko
Ashley Hupfl
Mechanicville Mayor Mike Butler with Congressman Paul Tonko

The City of Mechanicville is receiving nearly $1 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funding to replace miles of old water pipes.

New York Congressman Paul Tonko joined local officials Monday to announce $800,000 in federal funding for the small Saratoga County city. The Democrat from the 20th district says it’s a million dollar project and the city will fund the rest.

"The shutdowns you've had to have because of repairs that were required cause all kinds of delay all kinds of interruption in households and businesses certainly the business community endures when that weakness is there," Tonko said.

Newly elected Mayor Mike Butler says Mechanicville’s water infrastructure is likely more than a century old.

"Back in 1914, I don't know how many people know, we were only a village. We didn't prosper to be a city, yet. We had a village engineer, his name was Charles Hicks," Butler said. "We had a superintendent of streets whose name was Frank Ferris, we also had a water superintendent, who was Maurice O'Brien - and I got to believe a lot of these pipes that we’re about to dig up, these guys had something to do with. So, I maybe another 100 years, someone will be mentioning the work that we did here in 2022."

The Republican noted the application process began under the last administration.

“Rather easy to come up with $800,000 – a week ago, all I did was answer the phone!”

Tonko, who serves on the Energy and Commerce and Natural Resources Committee, stressed the importance of safe and clean drinking water.

"Here, we'll have this opportunity to replace pipes that were installed anywhere from 1892 to 1928. Think of it, we get rid of our phones, because they don't have enough capacity, we get rid of our car because it has too many miles, our screens go in the house because the TV isn't big enough," Tonko siad. "But, we are content to sit with infrastructure that's 100 years old plus, and say, ‘It's OK.’ Out of sight, the infrastructure beneath our feet, shouldn't mean out of mind."

President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act in March, a $1.9 trillion stimulus package. New York received about $13 billion in aid.

Mechanicville Water Treatment Plant Supervisor Jim Horner says the funding will allow them to do a complete overhaul of the city’s water infrastructure.

"We definitely need it. I think most pipes are 1892 and then just a cop job of patches to hold these pipes together," Horner said.