ALBANY — Regional city officials and legislative allies are seeking additional support against a subterranean menace.
As state budget negotiations near the home stretch, Democratic mayors Patrick Madden of Troy, Michael Cinquanti of Amsterdam and Gary McCarthy of Schenectady are advocating for the final spending plan to buoy funding for a Cuomo era program in order to offset the cost of lead service line replacements.
A popular plumbing material more than a century ago, the potentially poisonous metal remains prevalent in some 360,000 service lines across New York. Scotia and Troy residents within recent months grew concerned after elevated lead contamination levels were found in several area homes.
“It impacts our education budgets; it impacts our healthcare; it impacts criminal justice and social services,” Madden said at a press conference in Albany. “It bears an enormous expense and so we do need the state’s help to move this forward.”
No plans are specified for the lead replacement program in Gov. Kathy Hochul’s $227 billion wish list.
But both chambers of the state Legislature have earmarked $50 million toward lead pipe replacement. The arrangement is supported by a number of local Assembly Democrats, including John McDonald of Cohoes, Patricia Fahy of Albany and Angelo Santabarbara of Rotterdam.
“We appreciate the steadfast efforts and support of Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara and the New York State Assembly to provide this critical funding,” Cinquanti said.
Amsterdam was awarded $521,785 from the state since 2017 for the program. Schenectady, Troy and Albany have received $516,565, respectively.
Lead abatement funding was allocated to communities with high percentages of children shown to have elevated lead levels, low household incomes and a high number of housing units built before 1939.
“It is a no brainer,” McCarthy said. “This adds to the attractiveness of our respective communities.”
Hochul plans to allow local governments to bond for public and private lead removal work. Additionally, a new $38.8 million program would help cover the cost of lead remediation for any multi-family pre-1980 rental unit failing a mandated three-year assessment.
Environmental Advocates NY Director Robert Hayes maintained that a full replacement of lead pipes could cost upward of $1.8 billion. Replacing a residential lead service line on average varies between $5,000 and $12,000.
“What we know is that $50 million to replace lead pipes is just a start,” Hayes said.
Schenectady hasn’t yet completed a full inventory of lead piping across the city. In Albany there are more 14,000 lead pipes and in Troy, more than 4,500.
Across the country, millions of lead pipes are still in place. It wasn’t until 1986 that Congress prohibited lead pipes in new plumbing materials, an amendment of the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974.
Tyler A. McNeil can be reached at 518-395-3047 or [email protected] Follow him on Facebook at Tyler A. McNeil, Daily Gazette or Twitter @TylerAMcNeil
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