The Nassau County Legislature unanimously approved $262 million of the $722 million that County Executive Ed Mangano requested to make improvements and upgrades to the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant, which processes 40 percent of the county’s sewage. Some of the funding will also be allocated to the Cedar Creek Water Pollution Control Plant in Wantagh.
“We approved $262 million to get the ball rolling and [to] allow the first phase to begin immediately,” said Democratic Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport). He added that he thought it would be irresponsible for the Legislature to agree to borrow nearly a billion dollars without any plan from the Mangano administration on how it would be paid back, or any oversight on how the money is spent. “ … We will request a detailed analysis from engineering and financial experts on how best to proceed,” Abrahams said.
The money will mainly fund the repair of equipment, such as sludge thickeners, and odor control at the Bay Park facility, which discharges 58 million to 65 million gallons of treated sewage per day into Reynolds Channel.
During Superstorm Sandy, the plant, which sits just yards from the bay, was knocked out of service for two days after being hit with a 9-foot tidal surge. It dumped an estimated 2 million gallons of raw sewage and 2.2 billion gallons of partially treated sewage in the bay waters in the 44 days after the storm — the worst sewage overflow in New York state and the second-worst in the Northeast, according to scientific researchers at ClimateCentral.org.
Another 3 million gallons were released into Reynolds Channel on May 9 of this year due to an hour-long power outage at the plant.
Legislator Francis X. Becker, a Republican from Lynbrook and an initial holdout for all of the requested funding, said that he eventually voted for the $262 million because “we took what we could get.”
“We didn’t want projects stopping and starting, so we wanted the full amount,” Becker said the Republicans in the Legislature. “But I see there are several indications that we can work together and get the plant operational, and hopefully state-of-the-art. I feel comfortable in [the Democrats’] desire to move forward with this.”