Proposed State Budget Reflects Commitment to Clean Water

The Governor has proposed to allocate $997 million to the Clean Water Fund.Earlier today, Governor Malloy presented his 2014-2015 budget proposal to the state legislature with $447 million for Fiscal Year 2014 and $55o million for Fiscal Year 2015 for the Clean Water Fund.

So you are probably thinking – why should this matter to me?

Well, if you enjoy going to the beach, eating shellfish, and drinking clean water, then you should care about the Clean Water Fund.

Every year over 2 billion gallons of raw sewage is dumped into Long Island Sound and its tributaries, closing beaches and shellfish beds. In fact, in 2011, there was a whopping 538 beach closure and advisory days in Connecticut.

Shellfishing Closed Sign

And every year, hundreds of acres of Long Island Sound are plagued by a low oxygen dead zone, threatening the health of wildlife.

Severe hypoxic conditions in Long Island Sound during August
Severe hypoxic conditions in Long Island Sound during August

If we want to safeguard the health of residents and Long Island Sound and say goodbye to beaches that are closed in the summer, we must invest in clean water infrastructure.

And that’s exactly what the Clean Water Fund does- it invests in clean water infrastructure.

What is the Clean Water Fund?

The Clean Water Fund is the state’s primary mechanism for funding wastewater treatment and sewer projects in Connecticut. The fund focuses on stopping raw sewage from flowing into our rivers and Long Island Sound and restoring the Sound’s low-oxygen dead zone.

Since 2008, the state has allocated $1.5 billion to clean water projects across the state.

What are the benefits of the Clean Water Fund?

There are many benefits associated with Clean Water Fund investments aside from the obvious environmental ones:

  • Jobs: For every million dollar invested, around 21 construction jobs are created. In fact, it is estimated that from 2008-2012, Clean Water Fund projects created or retained 31,500 jobs.
  • Taxpayers: The Clean Water Fund cushions financial impact on municipalities and sewer users.
  • Economy: Long Island Sound already contributes $9.5 billion each year to our region’s economy. Better water quality, created through the Clean Water Fund, will bolster commercial and recreational boating, fishing and tourism, increasing the economic benefit to the region.
  • Quality of Life: The Clean Water Fund makes Connecticut a better place to live and do business by providing clean water and open beaches to citizens, maintaining real estate values along our coast, and protecting the high-quality natural resources that help businesses attract new, young workers in our state.

Here’s the statement we put out today after the Governor’s budget was released:

“Governor Malloy’s leadership on the Clean Water Fund continues to demonstrate his commitment to clean water and new jobs here in Connecticut,” said Leah Schmalz, director of legislative and legal affairs for Save the Sound and co-chair of the Clean Water Investment Coalition. “These investments could provide much needed funding for combined sewer separation, nitrogen and phosphorus upgrades, and future infrastructure protection as we face sea level rise and intensifying storms. However, the need for clean water projects in the state is massive, and even with a substantial investment over the next two years, numerous sewage and phosphorus projects will remain shelved.  Our environment, tourism and marine trades industries were hit hard by the Sound’s dead zone and sewage contamination; that damage will take time and continued commitment to undo.  Thankfully, Governor Malloy has put us on the right path to revive our state’s treasure and recover our maritime legacy. We look forward to continued work on our mutual goal: fully funding all of Connecticut’s critical clean water projects.”

What’s next?

Now that the budget has been released, it will have to go through legislative hearings and votes before it is formally approved. We will let you know when hearing dates for the Clean Water Fund portion of the budget are set so you can tell the legislature that you care about clean water in Connecticut.

Posted by Rebecca Kaplan, director of communications for CFE/Save the Sound

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