October 18, 2021

Infrastructure incentive

Grant program to pay for resident water, sewer upgrades

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

A car drives Tuesday on Owego Street in Cortland, where the city has recently replaced aging mains. The city is telling low- and moderate-income residents of a grant program to help pay them to replace their water and sewer connections.

As the city of Cortland works to replace its aging water and sewer pipes — most recently on Owego Street — officials are encouraging residents to take advantage of a grant program to cover the cost of sewer and water lateral replacements.

The $750,000 water and sewer lateral program, administered by Thoma Development Consultants with work performed by the city, can help low- to moderate-income eligible residents cover sewer and water lateral replacements up to $20,000 per property, according to the program.

“This is a great opportunity for people in the city to take care of an infrastructure issue,” Mayor Brian Tobin said.

Tobin knows the problems aging laterals can cause as he had to replace his sewer lateral a few years ago; it cost $6,000.

Alderwoman Jackie Chapman (D-5th Ward) said she has been working to notify residents in her ward about the program, especially on places like Owego Street, where sewer and stormwater pipes are being replaced.

“It’s particularly wonderful for people on fixed incomes,” she said.

Chapman brought up this program following questions she received from her constituents and brought to the Dec. 1 Common Council meeting regarding the status of the Owego Street project.

Work on Owego Street’s sewer line began late this summer and was completed Friday, said Nick Dovi, the deputy superintendent of the city department of public works.

Work on the stormwater line will begin in the spring.

The cost of replacing the pipes is about $310,000 and funded through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund through the state Environmental Facilities Corp.

Tobin said that there was delay on this work this summer due to about six people from the DPW who were furloughed due to financial restraints caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

He said though that fixing aging laterals is a must, considering the age of houses they’re attached to, which tends to be close to a century old.

“If we don’t fix this, we’ll have bigger issues to fix,” he said.

Funding applications are due by June 28. To learn more, visit: www.cortland. org/481/Water-and-Sewer-Lateral-Program.