New York’s Governor Kathy Hochul joined with Westchester County, Mount Vernon and state officials April 15 at Mount Vernon City Hall to announce a $150 million state investment and three-way partnership to fix longstanding sewer and water infrastructure problems in the city.
It is expected that most of the work will take from five to seven years to complete after a comprehensive assessment is finished. However, some projects will be launched immediately, including the $7 million Third Street Sewer Project, designed to ensure reliable sewer service for about 500 homes that experienced sewage backups and now are served by a makeshift system using temporary pumps.
“In too many communities of color like Mount Vernon, critical water infrastructure has been left to fall into disrepair, but today we are setting an example for the nation by advancing environmental justice, improving quality of life for residents, and addressing decades of disinvestment,” Hochul said. “When I met with Mayor Patterson-Howard and heard about the seriousness of this crisis in her city, I immediately directed my administration to coordinate with the city and the county and right this systemic wrong.”
Hochul, Patterson-Howard and Westchester County Executive George Latimer signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that outlines the partnership amonge state, city and county.
Latimer said, “The significant investment in Mount Vernon’s aging sewage and wastewater infrastructure is absolutely necessary, as thousands of homeowners are directly suffering from sewage backup problems and related health issues, and sewage flooding is inevitably making its way into the nearby Hutchinson and Bronx rivers. Mount Vernon’s pipes are old, corroded and overburdened, and I am eager to begin this three-way partnership between the state, the county and the city to fix it.”
Patterson-Howard said, “Rebuilding our infrastructure is critical to the economic, social and physical health of the community.”
Assemblymember J. Gary Pretlow was among those attending, and he pointed out, “With storm flooding and sewage overflow that have been plaguing many of our city homes for so long, this partnership will alleviate the financial challenges our city has been facing to maintain, repair and replace aging infrastructure.”
The MOU defines the priority projects and outline roles, responsibilities, and available funding for the effort. The memo formalizes the three-way partnership between the city of Mount Vernon, Westchester County, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
The state will provide $1 million to find a survey of lead water pipes in Mount Vernon and to develop a replacement plan.
The Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery is committing to start a $3 million pilot program to mitigate environmental hazards and make upgrades to private property. Participating homes will be eligible for rehabilitation of damaged pipes, replacement of lead service lines, and other needed environmental remediation.
Some projects that are handled under the partnership also will help Mount Vernon fulfill its obligations under a federal consent decree to take care of longstanding violations of the Clean Water Act.