New York kicks off construction on $55 million wastewater treatment project in Buffalo

(UC) — Governor Kathy Hochul has kicked off construction on a $55 million wastewater improvement project at the Bird Island Wastewater Treatment Facility in the city of Buffalo.

New York State is investing $55 million to fund the project, which is part of the Buffalo Sewer Authority's long-term plan to modernize the Bird Island facility and significantly reduce the amount of pollution that enters the Niagara River. The project will help ensure cleaner, healthier water for all residents and visitors to Buffalo and the greater Western New York area.

"Together in strong partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, New York State is putting an end to decades of disinvestment in critical water infrastructure that has been left to fall into disrepair," Governor Hochul said. "This $55 million project will be crucial to safeguarding our public and environmental health, and is the latest investment in our nation-leading efforts to modernize New York's water infrastructure. My administration is committed to maximizing New York State's unprecedented clean water investments and the historic funding in the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help protect our precious water resources, and provide a healthy environment for our families, businesses and communities to thrive."

The project broke ground at a ceremony in Buffalo on Oct. 19 in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The event demonstrated New York's nation-leading commitment to clean water infrastructure investments and to the fundamental objective of the Clean Water Act, adopted in October 1972, "to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the Nation's waters."

The start of construction on this project is a key milestone in the Buffalo Sewer Authority's course to resolve longstanding violations of the Clean Water Act under an administrative order from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that was developed in coordination with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The Bird Island Wastewater Treatment Facility was originally constructed in the 1930s and upgraded in the 1970s. The project announced today is part of the Buffalo Sewer Authority's long-term plan to bring aging infrastructure into compliance with current standards. This project will increase the facility's capacity to handle intense rain events that can overwhelm Buffalo's combined sewer/stormwater system. These improvements will reduce untreated sewage effluent discharges to the Niagara River. Future projects in the plan include more robust sewage treatment processes and collection system improvements.

New York State has committed $55 million in grants and low-cost financing to fund this project, the Environmental Facilities Corporation provided a $9 million grant from the Water Infrastructure Improvement grant program and a $9 million grant from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and the Department of Environmental Conservation provided $10 million in state funding from the Water Quality Improvement Project grant program. The Environmental Facilities Corporation is funding the remaining cost of the project with low-cost financing through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund.

Under Governor Hochul's leadership, the Environmental Facilities Corporation and the Department of Environmental Conservation have awarded more than $900 million in state-funded grants to improve municipal clean water infrastructure in this past year alone. The Environmental Facilities Corporation operates the largest Clean Water State Revolving Fund in the nation, having provided over $33.4 billion in financial assistance to New York municipalities for clean water projects since 1990.

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