New York needs all the funding it can get to improve drinking water, prevent floods, and preserve our threatened environment. That’s why it’s so important that voters approve the Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs environmental bond act on their ballots this election season.

The proposal would pave the way for the state to borrow $4.2 billion through the sale of bonds, with the money going to specific capital projects for restoration and flood risk reduction, open space land conservation and recreation, climate change mitigation, water quality improvement, and resilient infrastructure.

What all that means for Long Island is enormous.

Environmental advocates say some of the crucial projects that could be funded by this proposal include initiatives like more sewers in places like Mastic Beach or Smithtown. Septic tanks and cesspools which exist mostly in Suffolk County could be replaced. The funding, which could support existing environmental programs or new programs to which municipalities could apply, could aid in the purchase of state-of-the-art drinking water filtration systems to protect against cancerous emerging contaminants, while still making water affordable for ratepayers. Thousands of acres of undeveloped land could be preserved. Wetlands along our coasts could be bolstered, restoring our ecosystems and protecting against climate change.

The money might be used to restore sea grass beds and fight algae blooms, while boosting the economy by creating jobs and making Long Island a better place to live, work, and visit.

It’s about time.

This particular environmental bond act is the first of its kind in more than 25 years. It has been long in the making, first proposed under Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and delayed during the pandemic. Given new life by Gov. Kathy Hochul and approved by the State Legislature this year, it now goes to voters. New York has often relied on bond acts like this to achieve big, crucial environmental projects, from the establishment of parks to protection against pollution. These acts tend to pass easily, but not always. This one must fly through with ease. Our current needs are staggering, not just from climate change but the aging of infrastructure that protects such daily necessities as our drinking water. The bond act would complement environmental funds already allocated in the state budget and available from the federal government through the Inflation Reduction Act. 

This year, however you vote on candidates, don’t forget about this proposal on your ballot. In Suffolk, the bond act is on the back of the ballot. In Nassau, it’s at the bottom of the front.

Find it, and vote yes to approve the environmental bond act.

ENDORSEMENTS ARE DETERMINED solely by the Newsday editorial board, a team of opinion journalists focused on issues of public policy and governance. Newsday’s news division has no role in this process.

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