FOLLOWING SUMMER OF HEIGHTENED HARMFUL ALGAL BLOOMS PRESENCE, REP. KATKO DELIVERS ON WATER INFRASTRUCTURE

September 14, 2018
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – At a time when Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) have plagued waterways across New York State and threatened access to safe and reliable drinking water, U.S. Rep. John Katko (NY-24) today announced significant progress in his fight to strengthen water infrastructure for Central New York and communities nationwide.

This afternoon, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed the historic, bipartisan and bicameral America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 (WRDA).  The measure makes significant investments in water infrastructure, and includes the SRF Win Act, legislation authored by Congressman Katko to modernize federal investment in water infrastructure.  

“In Central New York, we’ve seen a steady and troubling presence of Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) and other invasive species in our lakes and waterways.  We must protect our region’s water resources, and ensure safe, reliable drinking water is available to our communities. I’m proud to take a leading role on addressing this issue in Congress,” said Rep. John Katko.  “The bipartisan, bicameral legislation that passed through the House today included provisions I authored to provide billions of dollars in new water infrastructure funding nationwide, which will prove critical as communities in Central New York work to update and maintain water systems.”

Specifically, the provisions Katko authored:

  • Authorize $10 million over two years, estimated to leverage over $1 billion to support thousands of vetted drinking water and wastewater State Revolving Fund projects.
  • Ensure that small and middle-sized communities have greater access to this funding, not requiring these communities to pay the current $100,000 application fee.
  • Streamline application processes to a maximum 180-day turnaround.
  • Build upon and preserve the bipartisan Water Infrastructure Financing and Innovation Act (WIFIA),successful legislation that leveraged millions of dollars of investment into local water systems.  Katko’s legislation combines the best aspects of the State Revolving Funds with the leveraging power of WIFIA to more efficiently and affordably provide states with access to new funding to make the desperately needed investments in drinking and wastewater infrastructure.

Local leaders working on the front lines in the fight for clean water applauded Rep. Katko’s efforts:

“The Skaneateles Lake Association (SLA), representing thousands of stakeholders in the Skaneateles Lake watershed, and I’m sure along with the hundreds of thousands in Syracuse & CNY that depend on the clear, pure, unfiltered drinking water the lake supplies, are excited and hopeful that this legislation introduced by our representative in Congress, Rep. John Katko will be signed into law,” said Paul Torrisi, President of the Skaneateles Lake Association.  “It can ultimately help provide funding that will directly impact infrastructure in the Skaneateles Lake watershed by assisting local municipalities, homeowners, and farmers alike with the financial assistance to comply with optimal Best Management Practices (BMPs) to reduce nutrient runoff and pollution contributing to Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) that produce toxins in our drinking water.”

Steve Lynch, Director of the Cayuga County Department of Planning and Economic Development and Chair of the Cayuga County Water Quality Management Agency  stated, “Congressman Katko’s introduction of the SRF WIN Act to expand federal funding opportunities though State infrastructure finance authorities could be pivotal for our small communities struggling with costly upgrades to aging water systems. By expanding program eligibility, expediting reviews for critical projects and placing water infrastructure projects on a par with wastewater projects, the Bill could open doors for innovative projects that the current programs simply cannot address.” 

“Cayuga County knows all too well the dangers of Harmful Algal Blooms and invasive species on our waterways and drinking water,” said Ed Wagner, Owasco Supervisor and Chair of the Owasco Lake Watershed Management Council. “We’ve made significant investment in our water infrastructure, and the measure the House passed today includes important provisions championed by Rep. Katko which will make available critical funding to ensure every community throughout our region can deliver clean water for residents and businesses.”

In addition to the provisions detailed above, WRDA makes investments to strengthen America’s harbors, ports, waterways, flood protection, and other vital water infrastructure.

Rep. Katko has focused significantly in Congress on bolstering water infrastructure for Central New York and communities nationwide.  He led efforts in the House to restore critical water infrastructure funding to the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) and led efforts by the bipartisan members of the Problem Solvers Caucus in authoring a bipartisan infrastructure report highlighting the importance of investing in infrastructure on a federal level.

###