South Shore bays are polluted

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Organizations that supported the 10-point plan include members of the Western Bays Collaboration Working Group. One of those members is the Point Lookout Civic Association. Gerald Ottavino, co-chairman of the group’s environmental committee, said that Hurricane Sandy revealed how vulnerable the county’s sewage treatment infrastructure is. The nine-foot tidal surge that flooded Bay Park necessitated change at the plant, Ottavino said, adding that meeting the 10 objectives would mean rebuilding and modernizing the facility.

Elected officials in the Western Bays Collaboration Working Group agreed that action must be taken, with one, County Legislator David Denenberg, a Democrat from Merrick, suggesting that the county follow through with projects that have already been funded. Denenberg said that South Shore waterways cannot wait 15 years to have heightened protection. The county, he explained, has allocated $700 million for sewage treatment plant infrastructure improvements since 2007, including adding a third treatment level at the Bay Park and Cedar Creek plants, ammonium removal, enhanced odor control and replacement of pumps at Bay Park. But $400 million in the five-year plan remains unused, he said.

Noting that the Bay Park pumps that failed during Hurricane Sandy were supposed to have been replaced two years ago, Denenberg said that the public should urge county lawmakers to use the funds and carry out the plan while the TMDL studies and document preparation continue.

“These studies are only confirming what we know, so why wait?” he said. “I will continue to advocate that these projects that have already been planned and designed and in our capital plans for years be implemented and completed.”

Stony Brook and Battelle plan to submit final reports on their studies to the DEC in April, Holdridge said. She noted that total funds allocated to develop data to support the TMDL document, which will cost $300,000 to prepare, exceed $1.6 million.

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