There has never been any doubt that clean drinking water is a necessity. Yet, a rapidly heating planet and a legacy of careless industrial pollution have put New York’s water at risk. Add to that the importance of clean water in keeping us safe from COVID-19, and the stakes could not be higher.
Hand washing and proper hygiene are essential to preventing the spread of COVID-19, which means access to clean water is critical during this crisis. But across the state, that access is threatened by aging water infrastructure and the possibility that New Yorkers struggling with their bills might have their water shut off.
New York State has some of
the oldest water infrastructure in the country, with many pipes over 100 years old. New York went decades without properly funding these systems, which has meant billions of gallons of untreated sewage entering New York’s waterways and hundreds of water main breaks annually. It has been estimated that over the next 20 years, $80 billion will have to be invested to make all of the needed repairs, replacements and updates to New York’s wastewater and drinking water infrastructure.
Many people in the communities already more vulnerable to COVID-19, low-income and majority-minority communities, are more likely to be threatened by water shutoffs. Those facing layoffs during this time who may not be able to make payments could also be threatened.
In addition, the state’s
looming budget deficit could shortchange needed investments in improving New York’s drinking water infrastructure. As state lawmakers grapple with this budget crunch and drinking water needs, let them know that it is vital that every New Yorker has access to clean water.
- Email Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Majority Leader of the New York State Senate, at email@example.com.
- Email Carl E. Heastie, Speaker of the New York State Assembly, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sample email message:
New York should adopt a statewide moratorium on water shutoffs and require water restoration for the entirety of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, more money must be invested in water infrastructure to fund repairs, replacements and upgrades, and to help make water more affordable.
Despite the pandemic, you can count on NYPIRG to continue fighting to protect the environment and the public interest during these challenging times. Thanks so much for your ongoing support, and please take care.
PS: The 2020 Census is happening now, and a complete and accurate count is critical to the future of New York. It is used to drive hundreds of billions of dollars in federal aid, establish how many members New York has in Congress and set new political boundaries. I hope that you can find the time to fill out your form and make sure that New York gets counted. Visit nypirg.org/census for more information.