January 15, 2014 | 3 comments | 3873 views
Officials seek $600 million for sewage outfall pipe
Not covered by FEMA, conduit would take treated effluent miles out into Atlantic
Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano planned to meet with Sen. Charles Schumer and others in Washington this Wednesday to discuss $600 million needed in additional funding for a long-discussed ocean outfall pipe that would take treated sewage from the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant, located in East Rockaway, and from the sewage plant in Long Beach, and would release it two to thee miles out into the Atlantic Ocean. The treated sewage is currently being released into Reynold's Channel.
The waterways still have massively elevated levels of sewage and nitrogen, Schumer said, making swimming or boating dangerous or prohibited. These funds, which Schumer is seeking from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, will solve a problem that the county has been trying to solve for a decade, but has been unable to due to lack of funds.
"HUD is about to begin reviewing spending plans for billions of Sandy relief funds, making this a perfect time to make this push.
"We watched in horror while an environmental disaster unfolded in the wake of Sandy," said Schumer, "with sewage from the crippled Bay Park plant flowing back into homes and local waterways. This outflow pipe . . . would prevent another environmental disaster."
“To me, it’s always the right time to ask for money,” said Leg. Dave Deneberg (D-Merrick). “The concept is that the movement of ocean and the tides can handle the treated sewage better than the bays can.
Denenberg, who has been a longtime proponent of an ocean outflow pipe, pointed out that the upgrades must be done first before a outflow pipe can be installed. “The pipe was not the reason the plant went down during the storm. The County was so unprepared for this.”
The EPA and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation have declared vast amounts of water on the South Shore and Long Island to be “impaired,”citing elevated levels of microorganisms, reduced oxygen and increased nitrogen loading from contaminated runoff. Excess nitrogen in surface water allows algae to grow unchecked, depleting waters of oxygen and killing off marine life. Polluted waters mean less fishing and recreational boating, closed beaches and fewer tourism generated dollars in a region with an economy dependent on those industries.
The construction of an ocean outfall pipe would have a considerable impact mitigating the harmful effects of the growing threat rising nitrogen levels present to Long Island waters. "The federal government has an opportunity to make this project an exemplary model of how government can be innovative and prudent with the finite amount of funding available after a catastrophic natural disaster to protect the environment and thousands of impacted families," Schumer added.