State Assemblyman Steve Otis and State Senator Shelley Mayer today announced that Governor Cuomo has signed their legislation to simplify the process by which municipalities can access customer water usage data from private water companies for the purpose of helping fund clean water infrastructure projects. The legislation was requested by 14 Westchester local governments to assist them in obtaining water use information and help them lower the cost to taxpayers.
Assemblyman Otis stated, This home rule request will allow these municipalities to access the information they need to better tackle some of their clean water infrastructure obligations and reduce the cost to property taxpayers. With the help of Governor Cuomo we now have another tool to assist local governments in managing infrastructure needs.
With the signing of this bill, these cities and towns will have another tool to meet local infrastructure needs in a fair and equitable manner, said State Senator Shelly Mayer (D-37). I was pleased to ensure these municipalities can now obtain the necessary information to determine water usage in their communities.
Without this legislation the ability of local governments to access usage data was limited to seeking Public Service Commission approval for the private water company to utilize the data on behalf of the municipality in charging fees for water infrastructure costs. That process was cumbersome and made it difficult for municipalities to evaluate usage and other such data as needed in order to make decisions about water infrastructure projects and service. The municipalities affected by this legislation (A.11118-C/S.8999-B) specifically requested the measure in order to obtain and use this data.
The local governments included in this legislation are the cities of New Rochelle and Rye; the towns of Eastchester, Greenburgh, and Mount Pleasant; and the villages of Ardsley, Bronxville, Dobbs Ferry, Hastings-on-Hudson, Pelham, Pelham Manor, Port Chester, Rye Brook, and Tuckahoe.
Clean water is essential to public health and quality of life for all residents of New York. Many municipalities have aging water infrastructure, including sanitary sewer infrastructure, which is in dire need of repair and improvement. Certain recent federal and state enforcement actions have further accelerated the need for these improvements, and some municipalities lack the funds to undergo these types of projects. This bill would provide another tool for these municipalities to raise funds for these essential projects, while providing for adequate privacy protections for customers of private water companies.
This legislation builds on other initiatives such as the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2015 and the Governors $2.5 billion comprehensive clean water program enacted in 2017. Those programs include funding for municipalities to help fund clean water projects through state grants, which was initiated in 2015 by Assemblyman Otis and Senator Mayer, when she was in the Assembly. Since 2015 that program has provided over $500 million in grants to over 300 communities including $20 million in grants for Westchester projects in 2017.