Tedisco rolls out new program

Calls for financial help for water, sewer, gas infrastructure

ALBANY — State Sen. Jim Tedisco, R-Glenville, took aim at New York state’s aging infrastructure Thursday with a proposal to create a new program to fund repair and replacement of water, sewer and gas line infrastructure.

Tedisco, who campaigned on this issue, announced a bill for a program he calls the Safe Water infrastructure Action Program, SWAP, which would function similar to the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program, known as CHIPS, which funds the repair and repayment of most municipal streets and roads. SWAP would provide annual formula-based funding to all municipalities in the state to allow them to identify and swap out old, deteriorating pipes, water mains and gas lines to better maintain the state’s infrastructure.

Tedisco sited a recent report by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli that stated New York state’s aging water infrastructure program could cost $40 billion in repairs and upgrades over the next two decades.

“There’s a monster lurking in New York state’s aging water and sewer infrastructure that could wreak havoc on millions of people if it’s not stopped. Many of our towns and cities all over the state have underground infrastructure that’s over 100 years old with some as old as the Civil War. These trolls of the sublevel could collapse at any time putting the safety of our drinking water at risk and leaving overburdened local taxpayers on the hook for millions of dollars in costly repairs,” Tedisco stated in a news release. “We can’t duct tape our way out of this crisis with quick fix repairs. Our Safe Water infrastructure Action Program will enable local governments to make repairs now and help them plan to replace our underground infrastructure in the future.”

Assemblymember Phil Steck, D-Colonie, is one of the sponsors of a companion assembly bill that mirrors Tedisco’s SWAP proposal. Steck, as well as local officials from throughout Tedisco’s 49th state senate district, attended Tedisco’s news conference supporting the bill.

Mayfield Mayor Jamie Ward said his village desperately needs the kind of funding SWAP could provide to address its failing 100-year-old water tower and pipes that date back to the early 19th century.

“We have our tourism, we have students that are [both] affected by these water breaks. School went long, in the last couple of years [vacation] breaks were shorter [for students] because of our water breaks,” Ward said. “We literally could not send our children to school because of our failing infrastructure. We have wood pipes. We have lead pipes that have been removed in many instances [when we] can find them.”

Chris Satterlee, superintendent of the Gloversville Water Department, said his city needs more state funding to help replace its aging water lines.

“We are strapped. Right now, when there’s something that goes on with our system, we put a band-aid on it. Is it the right way? No, but it’s what we can afford at this time,” Satterlee said. “People look at us and they want their clean water delivered to them in an affordable manner. I think with this legislation, we’re going to realize that and for that, in the city of Gloversville, we stand behind this 100 percent.”

According to Tedisco, several municipalities have expressed support for S.W.A.P. and passed local resolutions including Saratoga County, Troy and the towns of Clifton Park, Ballston, Glenville, Halfmoon, Malta, East Greenbush and Corinth and has received the endorsement of the Association of Towns for the State of New York and the New York Rural Water Association.

The SWAP legislation is Senate Bill S.3292 and Assembly Bill A.3907.