How bonds factor into Nassau County sewage plant upgrade

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A planned $354 million pipe upgrade at the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant in East Rockaway, N.Y. will be partly funded through borrowing by Nassau County.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the project Sunday. It is supposed to prevent the discharge of 19 billion gallons of treated sewage into the shallow Western Bays waters each year. Cuomo said the new initiative will instead divert the plant’s treated waste through an abandoned aqueduct along Sunrise Highway to an existing outfall pipe into the Atlantic Ocean.

“We are committed to upgrading our infrastructure to protect our water quality and natural resources," said Cuomo in a statement. "This project will permanently remove tens of billions of gallons of sewage from the Western Bays, restoring our natural barriers to extreme weather and revitalizing our most critical ecosystems."

Ed Ward, a spokesman for Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, said Monday that the county legislature will vote in the next two months on bonding $157 million for the project, which would then be subject to approval by the Nassau Interim Finance Authority. New York State is slated to invest $120 million for the plant upgrade with $77 million deriving from federal sources.

“This is the most important environmental project our island has seen in the past 50 years,” said Mangano during a press conference announcing the project’s funding. “This is a great, innovative solution that will help protect our shoreline.”

The project will include construction of a two-mile, 72-inch pipe system that connects the plant to a county-owned aqueduct that runs under state-operated Sunrise Highway. Funds will also be used to rehab an eight-mile stretch of the aqueduct and reline with fiberglass. A 2-mile pipe would then be built connecting to the existing six and a half miles-long Cedar Creek outfall pipe and carry treated effluent nearly three miles into the deep Atlantic Ocean waters.

The Bay Park plant, which was constructed in 1949, suffered heavy damage from superstorm Sandy five years ago. Nassau County and New York State previously sought unsuccessfully for more than $600 million in federal funding to build a new ocean outfall pipe at the plant.

Nassau County has explored a public-private partnership for its three wastewater facilities since 2011. County officials estimate leasing the sewer system to a private company could net between $650 million and $1 billion.

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Infrastructure County of Nassau, NY New York