The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced on May 2 that it would provide $569 million to New York and New Jersey for improvements to wastewater and drinking water facilities hit by Hurricane Sandy last year.
The funds were appropriated in the post-Sandy spending bill, which was signed into law in January. The Sandy bill contained $600 million for improvements to treatment plants affected by the monster storm. With the sequester in place, the number was trimmed to $570 million.
A total of $229 million will go to New Jersey and $340 million will go to New York for drinking water and wastewater plant upgrades, as well as green water infrastructure systems designed to reduce combined sewer overflows.
Several wastewater treatment plants lost power or were flooded in the aftermath of Sandy. As a result, some facilities lost their ability to treat sewage, and raw sewage came up through manholes and flowed into waterways.
EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck told reporters on May 2 that funding-eligible projects will be those that can increase the resiliency of water facilities to withstand the effects of future storms similar to Sandy.
Such projects could involve installing backup power or submersible pumps, developing green infrastructure to mitigate a storm surge and building barriers to prevent flooding, she said.
“In the future, we believe this funding will make it possible to keep clean drinking water flowing and raw sewage contained, during major storms,” Enck said.
“These funds will allow localities across the state to repair vital infrastructure damaged by Superstorm Sandy – as well as to build back smarter and stronger to better withstand future natural disasters and flooding,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) said in a statement.
“It is absolutely crucial that we fortify our drinking water and wastewater systems with equipment and features to ensure plants are operational during and after major storms and that the water flowing to the businesses and homes of New Yorkers is safe and protected.”
The EPA funding goes hand in hand with aid from other federal agencies to support rebuilding in the aftermath of Sandy.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has obligated more than $1 billion to support state and local rebuilding efforts. The Federal Transit Administration’s Emergency Relief Program has allocated $2 billion and the Federal Highway Administration’s Emergency Relief Program has allocated $584 million to repair and rebuild damaged infrastructure.