A duo of bills sponsored by Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. and State Senator Ken LaValle that address water quality protection on the East End, through the Peconic Bay Region Community Preservation Fund (CPF), were recently approved by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
In 2016, all five Peconic Bay Region Towns approved referenda allowing up to 20 percent of the CPF’s annual revenue to be used for water quality improvement projects. The following year, the State Legislature authorized a $2.5 Billion Water Quality Infrastructure Bond Act to better water quality across New York State, an effort which the Peconic Bay Region has greatly benefitted from.
The legislation spearheaded by Assemblyman Thiele and Senator LaValle focus on ensuring harmony between the CPF and state water quality programs.
“Water quality degradation on the East End poses one of the most serious threats to the health of our residents. We need every tool in the tool box to reverse the disturbing trend of declining water quality,” Assemblyman Thiele stated. “By utilizing CPF revenues to match state grants we can bring public water to contaminated neighborhoods without delay. In addition, by combining grants with loans for upgraded septic systems and permitting the loans to be repaid over a 10 year period on the tax bill will encourage more property owners to take the initiative to upgrade their septic system.”
A.9979/S.7853 will permit the Peconic Bay Region Towns to utilize the water quality improvement portion of the CPF for the “construction of public water mains and connections to inhabitants whose drinking water has been contaminated by toxic chemicals, hazardous substances or emerging contaminants”, as defined by state law.
A.10445/S.8254 will allow the Peconic Bay Region Towns to create septic system replacement loan programs as part of the water quality improvement allocation of the CPF to supplement current grant programs. The loan program must meet a number of requirements including: “the property must be located in an environmental priority area designated by the towns under the CPF project plan, the new septic system must be an approved septic system upgrade under the CPF project plan and County Health Department regulation, loans shall not exceed a term of 10 years and shall not exceed the actual cost of the project, loans may be repaid through an annual charge on the real property tax bill, and all repayments shall be deposited in the CPF.”
“With growing threats to our water supply in the Peconic Bay region we must do everything possible to protect and insure the quality of our drinking water,” Senator LaValle added. “This legislation gives localities the ability to participate in providing clean, healthy water to areas impacted by emerging contaminants and gives access to needed funds for clean water initiatives.”