The $4.2 billion Environmental Bond Act, also known as the Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Bond Act, would allocate at least $200 million for wastewater infrastructure projects and at least $250 million for municipal stormwater projects in New York. The Bond Act will appear on the ballot November 8, with early voting starting October 29. An additional $200 million would be allocated towards other water quality improvement projects. The overall objectives of these initiatives are to reduce agricultural water runoff, address harmful algal blooms, improve and update wastewater infrastructure, reduce and eliminate point source and non-point source discharges to water, establish riparian buffers, and replace lead service lines.
The Bond Act will provide funding to prevent potential water quality issues associated with farming activities and to help farmers purchase high-efficiency agricultural irrigation water management systems, which preserve water resources and transport nutrients to reduce the potential of runoff and groundwater contamination. Proper irrigation also produces higher quality crop yields, which benefit both farmers and consumers.
The Bond Act also addresses environmental issues involving stormwater, another type of runoff. Stormwater is water that doesn’t soak into the ground and runs into waterways, collecting pollutants from everything it touches.
In addition to fighting water pollutants at their source, the Bond Act will help New York implement green infrastructures like riparian buffers to combat the effects of water pollution. Riparian buffers are lands bordering bodies of water that are planted with vegetation that stabilize streambanks, filter water, improve fish and wildlife habitats, reduce flood impacts, and control erosion and sediment runoff. The Bond Act will continue to support the numerous federal, state, and local programs that provide funding and technical assistance to create and maintain riparian buffers.
Abating nutrient pollution from farming is one of several approaches to mitigate and eliminate Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB). HABs are clusters of fast-growing algae that occur in places with excess nutrients, lots of sunlight, low-water or low-flow conditions, and warm temperatures. They produce biotoxins that can cause illness, irritation, and viruses in humans and animals. Under the Bond Act, the State will work with experts to design and put in place emergency response equipment to address HABs.
The Bond Act will continue to support New York’s 2017 Clean Water Infrastructure Act by funding more lead service line replacements. Lead can enter drinking water as pipes corrode, or it can leach into residential water systems from other sources. Lead poisoning occurs when high amounts of the metal builds up in the body, and it can have fatal consequences. The Lead Service Line Replacement program will replace the entire length of residential pipelines to reduce the presence of lead in New York’s water systems.
All of these programs aim to provide all New Yorkers with clean drinking water, safe and productive soil, and enjoyable recreational public waters. The Bond Act supports farmers, designers, construction workers, and countless others to maintain the quality of New York’s water supplies.