State Budget Boosts Clean Water, Parks
ALBANY, N.Y. – New York's environment will get a big boost in the new state budget.
While the last details of the state-spending plan still are being nailed down, the budget extender bills passed Monday include what environmentalists are calling historic investments in clean water, natural resources conservation and state parks.
According to Jessica Ottney Mahar, policy director for The Nature Conservancy in New York, the budget bills appropriate $2.5 billion to protect drinking water at the source and to upgrade drinking water infrastructure.
"This funding includes $1 billion to deal with issues like providing communities with new pipes for drinking water and wastewater,” she states.
The funding also includes $75 million for a program to upgrade and replace outdated septic and cesspool systems.
Mahar says that will help clean up surface water in many parts of the state.
"We're finding in a lot of areas, including Long Island and the Finger Lakes and the Thousand Islands, that pollution from those systems is impacting our lakes and our bays and our streams," she states.
The bills also include $70 million for recreational infrastructure on state lands, $122 million for state parks and $300 million for the Environmental Protection Fund.
While some of the more controversial budget measures, such as raising the age of criminal responsibility to 18, were still being debated, Mahar maintains passage of the environmental bills shows a bipartisan commitment to protecting New York's environment.
"Everyone across the board supports clean water and supports sustainable communities, and that's really reflected in the budget that they're working to advance," she states.
Implementing legislation for the budget bills is due by May 31.