WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Legislation designed to improve and preserve the ecological health of several bodies of water in Westchester County for future generations has been signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Four individual bills, each sponsored by State Sen.Terrence Murphy and State Assemblyman David Buchwald, designate the Bronx River, Pocantico River, Saw Mill River, Campfire Lake, Echo Lake, and Peach Lake as “inland waterways.”
The legislation allows for localities along the designated bodies of water to apply for state funding for environmental and waterfront revitalization projects.
Every member of the State Assembly who represent districts that include the Bronx and Saw Mill rivers co-sponsored the legislation, and the Westchester County Board of Legislators conveyed strong support for the initiatives.
The funding for such projects is administered by the New York Department of State. The department can appropriate the funds to municipalities for the purposes of improving water quality, ensuring coastal resource and environmental protections, mitigating flooding, and increasing public access to the public waterways.
The Bronx River Advisory Board (BRAB) and the Saw Mill Watershed Advisory Board (SWAB), both of which are inter-municipal task forces established by the Westchester County Board of Legislators and the towns and villages that are home to the respective waterways, played an important role in the inland waterway legislation.
Buchwald attended numerous meetings of BRAB to address the various issues that affect the communities along the Bronx River.
As a result of the advisory board’s work, the County Legislature recently adopted BRAB’s and SWAB’s respective Stormwater Reconnaissance Plans, which identify numerous projects in each municipality that address issues relating to storm water management and flood mitigation.
By including the Bronx and Saw Mill Rivers in the definition of inland waterways, these projects will be eligible to compete for funding going forward, which has the potential to create jobs, reduce flooding and protect the environment.
In Westchester, the cities of White Plains and Yonkers, the towns of North Salem, Bedford, New Castle, North Castle, Mount Pleasant, Greenburgh, Scarsdale, Eastchester, and Ossining, as well as the villages of Briarcliff Manor, Tuckahoe and Sleepy Hollow are all eligible for waterfront revitalization and environmental protection grants as a result of Senator Murphy’s and Assemblyman Buchwald’s inland waterway legislation.
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