On The Street

The Governor Giveth Clean Water and River Pools, and May Taketh Them Away

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By Michael Gold

Gov. Kathy Hochul’s new budget proposal to cut the state’s funding for clean water infrastructure in half, from $500 million to $250 million, could potentially create funding delays for key sewage and water treatment and drinking water projects in Westchester and Putnam counties and undermine her recent proposal to build river pools in the Hudson River.

Under the Clean Water Infrastructure Act, communities in New York apply for state grants to fund local drinking water and wastewater projects.

“With less funding available from the state, fewer projects will be funded,” stated an e-mail sent to me by Dan Shapley, senior director for advocacy, policy and planning for Riverkeeper, a nonprofit organization that works to protect the Hudson and other waterways in the state.

Projects that may be affected include PFAS filtration in North Salem, Somers and Lewisboro, water and sewer systems in Westchester and Southeast and Kent in Putnam County.

PFAS chemicals have been used in industrial and consumer products for more than eight decades. Some PFAS products are being phased out because exposure to the chemicals at high levels may cause a range of health problems, from cancer to developmental delays in children.

“State and federal governments are setting or updating limits on several PFAS in drinking water,” Shapley wrote.

A variety of area projects, found on a state website, which could potentially be affected by the proposed cuts include:

Asbestos pipe replacement and distribution system upgrade in Cortlandt;

Tank and treatment improvements and other upgrades and enhancements to the Kensico Water District in Mount Pleasant;

Groundwater source and distribution systems upgrades in Mount Kisco;

Lead service line inventory water main replacement and water treatment, storage and distribution in Peekskill;

Lead service line inventory and system distribution upgrades in Ossining;

Water main replacement and system distribution upgrades in Tarrytown;

Water main replacement on Quaker Street in Chappaqua;

A new chlorine contact tank and chemical feed building at the Knollwood pump station and upgrades to transmission and pump station in Greenburgh;

Modifications, water main replacement, surface water source and distribution upgrades and spillway modifications and water main replacement at the lower Wiccopee Dam and Camp Field reservoir dredging;

Lead service line inventory and distribution system upgrade in Yonkers;

Water main replacement under the Saw Mill River Parkway in Yonkers;

Upper dam rehabilitation and surface water upgrade in Philipstown, Putnam County;

A new water treatment plant on New Orchard Street in White Plains; and

Rehabilitation of 71,000 linear feet of the Kensico Bronx Pipeline and distribution system upgrade.

“If Hochul’s proposal stands, hundreds of millions of dollars would be cut from the Clean Water Infrastructure program, for drinking water source protection and sewage treatment,” Shapley’s e-mail stated.

“We have huge infrastructure needs. We don’t want to see the state ramp back funding,” he said in a phone interview. Plus, “inflation has raised the costs of project work.”

“PFAS contamination needs carbon filters, which cost millions of dollars,” Shapley pointed out. “Lead-lined drinking water pipes need replacement. Fewer lead lines could be replaced.

“Westchester County has four projects for sewage treatment plant (STP) upgrades in Ossining,” he stated. “Westchester has Peekskill STP upgrades” in the pipeline, too.

“Communities may have to wait to get funding,” Shapely said. “There will be less money for these projects if the governor’s cuts are not restored, or the projects might be delayed, at best. Not all of these needs are going to be met if the cuts are sustained.”

Shapley also pointed out that “every town that has a drinking water system has leaks,” which costs municipalities additional money, because they have to pump more water to make up for the leakage.

“It’s a waste of money if there are leaks in the pipes,” he said.

Concerning the proposed river pools, which could be built in the Hudson River and other regional waterways, Shapley said, “We want to see the infrastructure upgrades to help people swim safely. The viability of the river pools could be affected by the governor’s proposals for cuts.”

In an e-mail, Shapley added, “There are locations along the Hudson that could have river pools or beaches, but only if paired with sewage system upgrades. Ossining, for instance, will be implementing a $30,000 state grant this year to see if there are fixes that can further improve water quality at Louis Engel Park.

Riverkeeper will be lobbying to “get the state legislature to restore the funding for all this critical water infrastructure,” Shapley explained. “There is tremendous support for these projects at the local level. The legislature knows how important these projects are. We will work to restore these cuts in the final budget.”

For a full list of planned New York State water infrastructure projects, visit


Pleasantville-based writer Michael Gold has had articles published in the New York Daily News, the Albany Times Union, the Hartford Courant, The Palm Beach Post and other newspapers, and The Hardy Society Journal, a British literary journal.

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