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Webster, NY - Senator Pamela A. Helming and Assembly Majority Leader Joseph D. Morelle announced legislation (S. 5902/A.7712) Thursday that accelerates the availability of new emergency funding for water infrastructure in an effort to help many communities currently facing significant flooding damage. This legislation, sponsored by Senator Helming and Majority Leader Morelle, amends the 120-day waiting period in the newly-adopted Clean Water Infrastructure Act of 2017 and makes funding available to municipalities immediately.

In some towns and villages, flooding has already breached the sewer systems. There is a major concern among local and state officials that potential backflow of sewage into lake and residents' homes could create serious environmental and public health hazards. Flooding has continued to get worse over the past several weeks, and local municipalities are beginning to exhaust all available local resources need to deal with this emergency.

"Residents and volunteers in communities impacted by flooding have banded together and are working around the clock to protect homes, small businesses and vital infrastructure," said Senator Helming. "In many instances, the state has stepped in to provide non-financial support. However, many towns and villages are beginning to exhaust their limited financial resources needed to deal with their emergency situations. If made available to communities, this funding could immediately provide the much needed relief and protection in the short term. The State Senate unanimously passed this legislation earlier this week, sending a clear message that this is not a Democrat and Republican issue. I would like to thank Majority Leader Morelle for championing this critically important legislation in the State Assembly."

Senator Rich Funke added, "When it comes to protecting our water infrastructure in an emergency, response time can make the difference between effective management of the situation or a potential public health crisis. I'm proud we recently secured $2.5 billion in state water infrastructure investment and I fully support this proposal to give municipalities like Irondequoit and Monroe County access to those dollars when it matters most. I thank Senator Helming, Majority Leader Morelle, and all of my state and local partners who are working to protect lake and bay side communities across our region."

The 2017-2018 State Budget created the Clean Water Infrastructure Act of 2017 and a new financial assistance program to address water infrastructure emergencies that are imminent hazards to public health, public welfare, and the environment.

However, the emergency infrastructure funding does not become available until August 18, 2017 – 120 days after the budget's passage. Communities currently affected by significant flooding and property damage along Lake Ontario and in other municipalities cannot access funding specifically designated to address ongoing emergencies like these. The bills addresses this urgent need by removing the 120-day waiting period to provide an option for municipalities to seek immediate financial relief from the state.

The bill was passed in the Senate on Tuesday, and will be sent to the Assembly.