Groups Provide Vision for Water Protection in NYS

During Earth Week, a broad, diverse group of experts announce unprecedented collaborative effort to protect NY waters; New report released: “Protecting Our Water from Source to Tap: A Vision for Water Protection in New York State”

Albany, NY—A network of environmental groups, environmental justice organizations, academia, wastewater treatment operators, drinking water suppliers, and government entities from across New York State released a report today entitled “Protecting Our Water from Source to Tap: A Vision for Water Protection in New York State.” The groups worked in an unprecedented collaboration to develop a menu of options for policies, funding, programs, and actions at the federal, state, and local level that would address New York’s critical clean water needs now and in the years ahead. The groups are sharing the report with policymakers and other key water stakeholders across the state.
“New York State is making great progress with recent historic investments in water protection, however, we have a long way to go to ensure clean, safe water for all New Yorkers from its source all the way to the tap,” said Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director for Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE). “We brought together a diverse group of water experts to discuss emerging threats to our water resources and explore options to protect clean water from the Great Lakes to Long Island’s sole source aquifer, now and in the years ahead. We now look forward to discussions with policymakers across the state that this report will facilitate.” 

Solutions are primarily focused on issues related to wastewater infrastructure, drinking water infrastructure, and source water protection. The report examines new innovative ideas, as well as ways to bolster existing programs that address policy and funding gaps in water protection. While the report recognizes that protecting New York’s water will require significant funding—New York’s wastewater and drinking needs are estimated at over $80 billion over the next 20 years—it also recognizes the need to ensure that when investments are made, clean water is kept affordable for all New Yorkers.

The report was led by Citizens Campaign for the Environment, with financial support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and Park Foundation. Participating groups include Stony Brook University, New York Water Environment Association, Onondaga County Department of Water Environment Protection, Orange County Water Authority, Riverkeeper, New York Rural Water Association, New York Section of the American Water Works Association, Wayne County Water and Sewer Authority, City of Newburgh, Natural Resources Defense Council, The Nature Conservancy, Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter, Port Washington Water District, People United for Sustainable House (PUSH) Buffalo, Partnership for the Public Good, City of Albany POTW, Environmental Advocates of New York, Adirondack Council, New York League of Conservation Voters, and Hudson River Watershed Alliance.

Geoffrey Baldwin, NYWEA President said, “The NY Water Environment Association is honored to collaborate with other environmental advocacy organizations on important water quality issues that affect public health and the environment. Complicated water issues need to be understood by elected officials and the general public, this report helps to communicate well our environmental challenges.” 

Judith Hansen, Chair of NYSAWWA said, “The New York Section of the American Water Works Association (NYSAWWA) was pleased to work with other stakeholders to offer ideas and solutions to the challenges facing New York’s waters. While the NYSAWWA and its members are dedicated to the stewardship of our drinking water resources, we recognize that resolving such problems as harmful algal blooms, emerging contaminants and aging infrastructure requires a true community response with participation from all sectors. The preservation of our quality of life and the protection of the public health depends on our continued collaboration.” 

Jessica Ottney Mahar, policy director for The Nature Conservancy in New York said, “The Nature Conservancy applauds Citizens Campaign for the Environment for convening organizations and experts to discuss threats to New York’s water resources, and for creating this important report capturing many policy opportunities we can work together to advance, building upon the progress already made with state funding and focus on this critical issue.”

Dan Shapley Water Quality Program Director for Riverkeeper said, “New York has taken historic strides to address some of the most important water issues of our day, including the need to upgrade of aging water infrastructure and to protect high quality drinking water at its source. We still have a long way to go to effectively manage watersheds, conserve water and ensure that the cost of needed investments are shared equitably. This document, and the group Citizens Campaign for the Environment convened to produce it, represent another step forward.”

Marcia Bystryn, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters, said, "Citizens Campaign for the Environment has crafted a roadmap for protecting New York's water resources that we are proud to support. Clean water is one of the defining environmental issues of our time and we look forward to working with advocates, elected officials, and other stakeholders to advance this vision." 

“Clean and abundant supplies of water are the life blood of New York’s prosperity. But if we do not respect and protect this essential resource, the repercussions will be irreversible and potentially catastrophic to our economy and quality of life,” said Roger Downs, Conservation Director for the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter. “We call upon the Legislature and policy makers to use this report as framework for action to sustain New York’s clean water legacy.”