They’re buried 12 to 24 inches underground, making them incredibly easy to ignore. But as Monroe County’s sewer lines continue to age, the problems associated with them are only getting worse — and New York State is struggling to come up with funding for their needed repairs.
According to a March 30 News 10 NBC article, there have been a stunning 312 water main breaks throughout the county in the first three months of 2015.
City of Rochester resident Tim Snow, who lives on a street where a water main recently broke, is still trying to fix the damage done to his home. The break flooded his basement with water and mud, ruining his furnace and electrical system.
“Everything was destroyed, my whole studio was gone,” he said.
The high frequency of water and sewer line breaks across Monroe County is a reflection of a problem plaguing much of New York State — aging sewer lines that desperately need to be replaced. Additionally, about a quarter of the state’s waste water facilities are being used past their life expectancy.
Giving New York State’s sewer line infrastructure the attention it needs won’t be cheap. The Department of Environmental Conservation estimates that the state will need to spend $36 billion over the next 20 years to fulfill its infrastructural needs.
While most local governments whose budgets have been stripped have been finding it next to impossible to fund these kinds of repairs, a new federal spending plan could offer hope. The Democrat & Chronicle reports the $1.1 trillion bill would give New York State some $154 million in funding for sewer line projects.
Sen. Charles Schumer has praised the budget bill as an important investment for the state.
“When the federal government invests in water infrastructure it’s like making a down payment on some of the biggest economic development projects in our state — because for so many of the companies that want to move here or expand here, our clean water and water availability is one of our best selling points,” he said.