Both men said they would fight to improve the water quality of the Western Bays and the Lloyd Aquifer. The bays are home to four sewage treatment plants and one power plant that discharge more than 60 million gallons of wastewater each day, and the treatment plants have been cited for releasing harmful materials into the bays. In 2010, the State Department of Environmental Conservation issued numerous violations to the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant for illegally discharging sewage into Reynolds Channel.
Sussman said he supports a study to determine the feasibility of constructing a sewage outfall pipe that would extend into the Atlantic Ocean. Weisenberg said that he has held press conferences to bring attention to the issue, and secured grants totaling $900,000 so that researchers at Stony Brook University can determine the level of pollutants in the bays — research that is expected to help secure federal funding to help deal with the problem.
Weisenberg said that while taxes are an important issue, the potential contamination and salt-water intrusion into the Lloyd Aquifer, the barrier island’s sole source of drinking water, is more pressing.
“If this Lloyd is damaged because we have salt-water intrusion,” he said, “then we are going to end up losing our ability to have our drinking water.”
Weisenberg noted that he has worked with Town of Hempstead and State Department of Environmental Conservation officials to address the release of hydrogen sulfide gas from rotting seaweed in Point Lookout, which sickened numerous residents. He explained that he worked with the town to secure a DEC permit last year to remove the seaweed.
“But it’s going to be reoccurring, and it’s spreading out right here on our channel,” Weisenberg said. “I can give you a political answer that you want to hear, but I’m giving you one that I know is really the most important that we have.”