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TheStreet Open House

New York's Aging Infrastructure A Costly Problem

VALERIE BAUMAN

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) ¿ Tens of thousands of miles of aging sewer and water treatment systems need extensive repairs and upgrades that could cost New York billions in the next two decades, an expensive undertaking even with the help of federal stimulus funding, according to state officials.

New York's Department of Environmental Conservation found sewage-treatment infrastructure around the state is aging out and in need of an estimated $36.2 billion in repairs over the next 20 years. A similar state Health Department study estimated that drinking water infrastructure is in need of approximately $38 billion in repairs over 20 years.

"There's really not a corner of this state that doesn't have an area that requires something to be fixed, but as soon as we fix one community, their neighbors will need something to be fixed," said Matthew Millea, acting president of the New York state Environmental Facilities Corporation, which awards loans and grants for wastewater and drinking water projects.

In the case of wastewater and sewage, much of the infrastructure is hidden underground, and the problems might not be apparent and are less likely to receive local funding. The problem with aging sewer infrastructure will affect one community at a time, gaining attention when serious overflows happen.

"They were constructed 30 to 40 years ago when the population was much less, now the population has grown but the upgrades of the facilities hasn't grown to keep up," said Adrienne Esposito of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

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