Monday, September 12, 2022

Bond acts and water projects

The 1996 environmental bond act funded the purchase of Whitney Park and Little Tupper Lake. Explorer file photo by Jonathan Esper.

In my almost 11 months at the Explorer, I have done a lot of reporting on the Adirondack Park’s critical water infrastructure. Infrastructure that cleans water for drinking, protects lakes and streams from pollution, mitigates flooding and literally holds up much of the region’s watery landscapes.

A lot of that infrastructure is in dire need of repair or replacement and plays a part in water quality issues like salt pollution, harmful algal blooms and stream connectivity crucial to hedging against the threat of climate change. In March, I found around $500 million of clean water infrastructure needs listed for projects throughout the Adirondacks.

Enter one major potential source of funds: environmental bond acts.

Policy reporter Gwen Craig in the September/October issue of the magazine took a deep dive into the state’s last environmental bond act, approved by voters in 1996. That $1.75 billion program funded the state’s purchase of prized Little Tupper Lake, the closure of Adirondack landfills and scores of local drinking water and wastewater infrastructure projects — possibly connected to pipes you drink from.

There is still millions of dollars in funding left from the bond. State officials in July announced plans to install a fish ladder at the Imperial Mills Dam in Plattsburgh, partly funded by 1996 bond money.

Gwen broke down the lessons learned from that last bond act, including a need for better record keeping (as documented in this story on her quest for records), and set the stage for the proposed $4.2 billion bond act up for voter approval in November.

If approved, the new environmental bond would fund water quality and infrastructure (think new sewer lines and wastewater plant upgrades), flood prevention, climate change mitigation and more. Water advocates are hoping the money will help repair dams, replace undersized dams and culverts, remove failing septic systems, minimize flood risks and restore streamfront habitat. Expect to hear more from bond act supporters and opponents as November approaches.


Photo at top: The 1996 environmental bond act funded the purchase of Whitney Park and Little Tupper Lake. Explorer file photo by Jonathan Esper.

Editor’s note: This first appeared in Zach’s weekly “Water Line” newsletter. Click here to sign up.

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Zachary Matson has been an environmental reporter for the Explorer since October 2021. He is focused on the many issues impacting water and the people, plants and wildlife that rely on it in the Adirondack Park. Zach worked at daily newspapers in Missouri, Arizona and New York for nearly a decade, most recently working as the education reporter for six years at the Daily Gazette in Schenectady.

3 Responses

  1. Alan G West says:


  2. Tom Paine says:

    Vote NO!! Generations of NYers being sold into endless debt?

  3. Max says:

    Thanks for sharing the information and the reference links. This really helps!

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