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Localities eye fix for aging water systems

February 5, 2021

The town of Cairo and village of Athens are exploring state funding options to improve their water infrastructure. Both municipalities are holding public hearings next week about pursuing Community Development Block Grants for their aging water systems. The CDBG program is administered by the state Office of Community Renewal. Approximately $49 million will be available to local governments through this program in 2021.

Cairo Town Supervisor John Coyne met with U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado, D-19, last week and discussed funding needs for the town's water system. "We need funding to finish upgrading our water system so people have quality water that's not going through pipes that are I don't know how old," Coyne said. "And to be able to get money to maintain our systems and make improvements when necessary." Members of the public will have the opportunity to comment Feb. 9 on the town's proposal, which would target aging pipes on Jerome Avenue.

"The proposed project includes the replacement of old water distribution main and services along Jerome Avenue to eradicate frequent breakage and significant leaks," according to the public hearing announcement. "The town is currently undertaking a large water upgrade project funded through the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation's Drinking Water State Revolving Fund. The proposed replacement of distribution main and services along Jerome Avenue could not be included in the previously funded work, and therefore, there is a need for additional funding to complete the much-needed replacement work."

The previous funding from EFC allowed the town to drill a new well in Angelo Canna Park, which should be up and running soon, Coyne said. The public hearing will begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday via Zoom. Athens is also looking to secure funding for water improvements. "Athens is like many small towns, in that our water, sewer and storm water pipes are for the most part 90 to 100 years old," Conservation Advisory Council chairman and former village trustee Joshua Lipsman said. "They are damaged by age and vulnerable. Here in the village, repairs and upgrades have been made over the years but there has never been a comprehensive inventory and infrastructure plan."

The grant funding would allow the village to formulate such a plan, Lipsman said. "Such a plan is crucial if the village is to obtain future funding for the extensive repair and modernization projects that are required," he said. "It's also a recommendation of our recently adopted Comprehensive Plan."