Empowering Communities, Advocating Solutions


Image of a beach with a closure sign.

Healthy water bodies are essential to our health and our quality of life throughout New York and Connecticut. Unfortunately, many communities are served by aging and failing sewage infrastructure. Sewage infrastructure that is overwhelmed or dilapidated can result in billions of gallons of raw or partially treated sewage being released in to the environment before reaching a treatment plant. Drinking water infrastructure is also in a state of constant disrepair, with communities facing ever-increasing water main breaks every year and numerous "boil water advisories" due to contaminated drinking water.

Antiquated sewage and drinking water infrastructure threatens our environment and health, while damaging our local economies:

  • More than 24 billion gallons of combined untreated sewage and stormwater is dumped into the Great Lakes each year.
  • More than 27 billion gallons of sewage enter New York Harbor each year and can end up traveling up the Hudson River.
  • Superstorm Sandy caused the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant on Long Island to fail, releasing more than 2.2 billion gallons of sewage into the Western Bays.
  • The Buffalo Sewer Authority allows more than four billion gallons of sewage to be discharged into local waters annually.
  • In Connecticut, Superstorm Sandy caused more than 24 million gallons of raw or partially treated sewage to be discharged into the CT River, Quinnipiac River, and Long Island Sound.
  • An overflow event in October of 2011 released over 40 million gallons of untreated sewage into Stamford Harbor, causing viral levels to skyrocket and shutting down shellfish beds for nearly a month.
  • Between 1.8 and 3.5 million Americans become ill annually from contact with recreational waters contaminated by the bacteria and viruses from sewage.
  • Since the beginning of 2014, the City of Syracuse has had nearly 440 water main breaks, which is estimated to cost more than $700 million to repair.
  • Drinking water systems are nearing or have already exceeded 100 years of age and still utilize some of their original infrastructure.

Clean Water Infrastructure Needs in New York and Connecticut

While repairing and replacing clean water infrastructure is absolutely necessary, it will also be costly. Over 20 years, repairing and replacing New York's sewage and drinking water infrastructure will cost $36 billion and $38 billion, respectively. Repairing and replacing Connecticut's sewage and drinking water infrastructure will cost $5 billion and $3.6 billion, respectively. Municipalities alone cannot fund the large-scale infrastructure improvements that are needed to protect our drinking water, health, and economy.

Federal Clean Water Funding

Federal Clean Water Funding
2010 $2.49 billion $1.39 billion
2011 $1.52 billion $936.1 million
2012 $1.46 billion $917.9 million
2013 $1.38 billion $861.3 million
2014 $1.44 billion $906.9 million
2015 $1.44 billion $906.9 million
2016 $1.394 billion $863 million
2017 $1.394 billion $863 million

Congress created the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) to provide support to municipalities for the construction and repair of sewage infrastructure, and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) to upgrade drinking water infrastructure and ensure safe water at the tap. In recent years, Congress has cut funding for both funds, shifting the burden to local governments. Washington must invest in clean water infrastructure, as already overburdened municipalities cannot fund these projects alone!

New York State Clean Water Infrastructure Funding

New York State has stepped up with historic levels of funding to address the state's significant clean water infrastructure needs. The Clean Water Infrastructure Act of 2017 is investing $2.5 billion in a comprehensive program to protect water quality, including upgrading wastewater and drinking water infrastructure, replacing failing septic systems, installing green infrastructure, protecting source water, replacing lead drinking water lines, and more. This will serve as a significant down-payment toward New York's massive clean water infrastructure needs, although with a nearly $80 billion need, further investment is still needed.

Updated by bsmith 12/8/17