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Tuesday, November 25, 2014
News
Nassau County Legislature OKs sewer privatization
Mangano promises to save taxpayers $233 million
By Mary Malloy and Laura Schofer mmalloy@liherald.com, lschofer@liherald.com
Courtesy Nassau County
The Bay Park sewage plant in East Rockaway is one of three wastewater treatment facilities that will be maintained and operated by United Water.

The Nassau County Legislature’s seven-member, bipartisan rules committee unanimously passed a plan on July 18 to implement a long-term contract for the control of the county’s wastewater system.

Promising to save taxpayers roughly $240 million over the next 20 years, County Executive Ed Mangano had announced a partnership with United Water on June 30, in which the company will manage and operate the county’s three wastewater treatment facilities, which include 53 pumping stations and a 3,000-mile sewer system. The county will pay United Water $57.4 million annually.

“This agreement offers a sustainable path forward for our sewage treatment infrastructure while also offering tremendous financial and environmental benefits,” said Norma Gonsalves, the Legislature’s presiding officer and a rules committee member. The others who gave their approval were Legislators Kevan Abrahams, Dennis Dunne, Judy Jacobs, Howard Kopel, Richard Nicolello and Carrie Solages.

A hearing before the full Legislature on July 14 was followed four days later by a vote by the committee. Cristina Brennan, the deputy director of communications, said that since it is a personal service agreement, it needed only the approval of the rules committee.

The deal will now go to the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, a state monitoring board that oversees the county’s finances, for approval.

“This agreement shifts Nassau away from an antiquated sewage treatment infrastructure that was becoming a burden to both the county and its residents,” said Kopel, whose district includes Bay Park and its sewage plant. “[It] provides financial savings and environmental upgrades over the current system, and allows the county to retain ownership of the sewage treatment plants.”

“I think the process of having this vote go through the rules committee only is completely improper,” said Legislator Dave Denenberg, an outspoken advocate of upgrading the county’s sewage plants. “This is a maintenance operation agreement for 20 years for the entire wastewater system that affects one million Nassau County residents. I also have reservations about a private monopoly taking control of a public facility.”

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