The city of Niagara Falls wastewater treatment plant is getting some much needed federal aid to upgrade its facility.
However, Rep. Brian Higgins said the nearly $3 million funding is just a tiny fraction of what the federal government should be spending on infrastructure across the state and the country. The money is coming from the FEMA Hazardous Mitigation Grant program, which provides for communities to eliminate long-term risks from future disasters.
In 2013, a rainstorm which brought 3-1/2 inches of water to Niagara Falls in just a few hours, ended up causing more than $10 million in damages and resulted in flooding at 1,100 properties. The upgrades made with the FEMA aid are aimed at avoiding damage from a similar weather event in the future.
Higgins said it is estimated that every $1 spent through the program will save $4 in future expenses. For Niagara Falls, it’s a start as the water board has identified a need for $27 million in upgrades.
“They are not alone. There is an immediate need across this community and throughout our country for infrastructure improvements including roads and bridges, as well as the infrastructure you don’t see, water and sewer infrastructure,” Higgins said.
The congressman said the American Society of Civil Engineers estimated $271 billion in current and future wastewater and sewer infrastructure needs throughout the country and $36.2 billion in New York alone. He said one in every four facilities in the state are operating beyond their 30 year useful life expectancy and 30 percent of New York’s sewer system is operating beyond its 60 year useful lifespan.
Higgins said he will continue to “fight for a major federal infrastructure bill that addresses the needs” of communities like Niagara Falls in a comprehensive way.