Like many of New Jersey’s older communities, the City of Syracuse faces inadequate, aging water infrastructure that leads to water and sewer main breaks, localized flooding and discharges of raw, untreated sewage into local waterways during heavy rain and snow melts.
Recognizing the $726 million problem her city faced, Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner has tackled this challenge head-on, advancing innovative water infrastructure solutions that not only improve water quality and system efficiency but also benefit the greater Syracuse community. Miner’s leadership has led to a national spotlight on Syracuse and its effective approach to water infrastructure .
Raising Money, Advancing Upgrades
In her role as mayor, Miner has prioritized advocacy for Syracuse’s water infrastructure needs, including submitting testimony to the United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, testifying before the New York State Legislature joint budget proceedings about infrastructure, and joining Building America’s Future, a bipartisan coalition of current and former elected officials advocating for increased investment in infrastructure. The mayor also advocates for the establishment of a public-private infrastructure bank at the federal level, with the ability provide the financial resources for repairs to the nation’s essential roads, bridges and water and sewer lines.
“Sewer and water leaks have caused cave-ins of streets all over this city,” said Mayor Miner in a May 2005 press release. “These are challenging and expensive to repair and inconvenience our residents. We need the State of New York to step up and support our communities—as they have historically done—to help us meet our infrastructure needs. … (O)ur state must help us to have a long-term, comprehensive, and sustainable way to repair our roads, water systems, and sewers.”
In 2015, the New York assembly awarded Syracuse $10 million to aid in the reconstruction of its water and road infrastructure. These funds enabled Syracuse not only to begin making necessary repairs, but also to conduct research on future projects.
Targeting Investment, Sharing Data
In 2015, under the leadership of Mayor Miner, the City of Syracuse received a three year $1.35 million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies to establish its Office of Innovation. The office focuses on identifying solutions to the problem of Syracuse’s ailing water infrastructure that use cutting-edge technology and a holistic approach to problem-solving. Over the past year and a half, the Office of Innovation team has developed a predictive model that determines a risk score, based on metrics like soil conditions, pipe materials, and break history, that is used to identify frail piping before it bursts. This October, the City of Syracuse has been selected to join What Works Cities, a national civic innovation collaboration sponsored by Bloomberg Philanthropies. Participating in this program will help Syracuse make data about housing, infrastructure, and neighborhood issues open and communicable to the public.
Miner to Keynote Jersey Water Works Conference
Mayor Stephanie Miner will deliver the keynote address at the Jersey Water Works Conference on Friday, Dec. 2, at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark. Her remarks will focus on how New Jersey cities can advocate effectively for state-level support, employ innovation in managing water infrastructure assets, and make stormwater a key asset and tool in neighborhood revitalization. Register today!