Today, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand announced $662,504.37 in funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Public Assistance Grant program for the Town of Owego. This federal funding will be used to improve the sewer system for local residents. The Town of Owego will utilize these funds to repair Main Street Pump House #4, which supplies drinking water to approximately 1,700 homes in Apalachin, located in the Town of Owego. The pump house became inoperable following flooding that occurred in September 2011 during Tropical Storm Lee. While a temporary fix was provided, Schumer and Gillibrand pushed FEMA to approve these funds and increase the total amount after FEMA initially decided to allocate just under $250,000 for the project, which would have left Owego unable to make up the difference. The total project cost is $883,339.16 and FEMA funding has now agreed to cover 75 percent of the cost, or $662,504.37.
“With this funding, the Town of Owego will now be able to make crucial improvements to its sewer system without passing the financial burden onto local taxpayers,” said Senator Schumer. “This project will improve the Town of Owego’s sewer infrastructure, making it more reliable. A top-notch sewer system is critical for economic development and public health and this federal funding will make the improvements the town sorely needs.”
“It is vital that we invest in key infrastructure in our communities,” said Senator Gillibrand. “With this funding, the Town of Owego will be able to repair their sewer system, which is essential for local families and businesses. By contributing to these local infrastructure investments at the federal level, we can help hold the line on property taxes in our communities.”
“The Town is appreciative of the Senators’ efforts on our behalf. We’ve been working on this since the flood,” said Don Castellucci, Supervisor for the Town of Owego. “Their efforts have brought us closer to moving forward on this necessary piece of infrastructure.”
Senators Schumer and Gillibrand fought to ensure the Town of Owego received the funds required to properly repair its sewer system. In 2012, when the project was first approved by FEMA, Owego was allocated $246,198.99 for sewer repairs. However, this amount was determined to be insufficient by the town, as it could not complete the scope of work with the funding allocated. In addition to the town’s need for more funding, a water main break in the Town of Owego during May 2014 left it running on extremely inadequate water infrastructure. Schumer and Gillibrand said this dire situation made the need for a decision from FEMA regarding the additional funding critical. Recently, FEMA approved the scope of work change for the town so that the project can be completed in accordance with the recommended standards for water treatment. The total project cost is $883,339.16 and this FEMA funding will cover 75 percent of the cost with this $662,504.37.
Schumer and Gillibrand said this is a critical piece of infrastructure to the town’s sewer system and will help it move toward making the pump house functional again, which will relieve significant strain on sewer infrastructure. The mission of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Public Assistance Grant program is to provide assistance to State and local governments, as well as certain types of private nonprofit organizations so that communities can quickly respond to and recover from major disasters or emergencies declared by the President.