Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced proposed changes to the financing tools New York makes available to municipalities that will prioritize Environmental Justice areas for water infrastructure projects. The changes would help address the historic inequities faced by low-income communities and communities of color that have borne the brunt of the worst environmental impacts. These resources will fix existing water infrastructure issues and prevent future ones by making more municipalities eligible for cost-saving financial assistance that allows them to afford critical clean and drinking water projects.
“Everyone, including state and local governments, has an obligation to rethink how our actions can create negative environmental impacts that disproportionately affect low-income and disadvantaged communities,” Governor Cuomo said. “Prioritizing Environmental Justice communities for these resources will help municipalities overcome the financial challenges standing in the way of making sure every New Yorker has access to water that is safe to drink and clean for recreation.”
The New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation, in cooperation with the State’s Department of Environmental Conservation and Department of Health, administers the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund to provide zero- and low- interest loans to support critical water and drinking water infrastructure projects across the state. These projects include the construction of sewers, wastewater treatment plants, water storage tanks, water distribution systems, and water treatment systems to protect the environment and public health.
The State is revising the CWSRF and DWSRF programs to include additional considerations for low-income communities and communities of color that have historically been burdened by pollution and other environmental challenges and will make zero-interest financial assistance available to more areas that serve Environmental Justice community residents. Each year, EFC issues draft federal fiscal year Intended Use Plans for public review and comment that provide information about New York’s revolving loan fund programs. The IUPs include the types of financial assistance available, the sources and uses of each of the SRF’s funds, and identify the infrastructure projects that are eligible for financial assistance in FFY 2021.
The 2021 draft IUPs include revisions to incentivize water infrastructure improvements in Environmental Justice communities. Projects that primarily benefit Environmental Justice communities would be eligible for zero-interest financing pursuant to the SRF Hardship Policies. In addition, beginning in FFY 2021, all municipalities seeking SRF financial assistance to fund their water infrastructure projects will be required to consider the impacts of their proposed project on Environmental Justice communities as part of their required engineering reports.